Pioneering fostering programme expands

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bottom L-R: Steve and Wendy, middle: Kim Curless Mockingbird liaison worker

A pioneering fostering programme in Wigan Borough will be expanded to include even more carers.

Wigan Council’s ‘Mockingbird’ scheme launched in 2018 and involves foster carers being part of a close-knit group with other carers (called a ‘constellation’).

The constellations benefit from having a network of targeted support and fostered children become part of an extended family unit.

It links a number of foster families close to a hub fosterer, who is an experienced carer providing respite, peer support and training or social activities.

On Saturday 7 March, the council celebrated the second constellation of carers with a family event in Mesnes Park Lodge complete with a ‘creepy crawly’ entertainer, children’s activities and music.

Coun Jenny Bullen, cabinet member for children and families at Wigan Council said: “The first year of Mockingbird has been a fantastic success.

“The families in the first constellation have really benefitted from their network of support and often refer to it as an ‘extended family’.

“We’re delighted to celebrate a second constellation, which means even more families and carers can support each other, addressing issues or difficulties before they escalate.”

This extra level of support also helps to retain foster carers and ensures children remain in stable homes.

Hub foster carers, Wendy and Steve Lowe have been fostering for 15 years.

They will now support between six and ten families in their fostering journey, including some newly approved carers who haven’t fostered before.

Speaking of the programme, Wendy said: “As hub carers, Steve and I can provide tips, advice and respite to other foster carers directly. They can contact us at any time of day, just like you would your friends and family.

“By putting together a group of like-minded people in this way, we can create a close-knit community and provide real support.

“Not only do the foster carers benefit from this way of working, but so do the children and young people in our care because they can socialise and talk with others of a similar age going through the same journey.”

If you would like to find out more about fostering, please visit www.wigan.gov.uk/fostering or contract the team on 01942 487200.