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Foster carers urgently needed to look after vulnerable teenagers, says Barnardo’s

Release Date: 31 Aug 2017

Barnardo’s supporters and former TOWIE stars Debbie Douglas and daughter Lydia Bright are backing an urgent Barnardo’s appeal for more foster carers to look after vulnerable teenagers throughout the UK.

Debbie who has fostered 250 children and teenagers over the past 25 years, her daughter Lydia and teenage foster daughter Ellie are fronting Barnardo’s campaign for more foster carers.

It’s estimated that there are almost 50,000 teenagers in care in the UK – around 60% of the total number of looked-after children. But despite estimates that a child goes into care every 20 minutes in the UK*, there are not enough foster carers to look after them, says the leading national children’s charity which has been caring for children for more than 150 years.

Debbie and Lydia have seen first-hand the positive difference fostering can have on teenagers and foster carers and they understand the difficulties many youngsters face.

Debbie said:

Being a teenager is hard at the best of times and being a teenager in care can be even harder. Having a stable, happy, loving home where you can relax and be yourself while knowing you are genuinely cared for is so important. Every teenager deserves this opportunity.

A survey of 2,156 people for Barnardo’s reveals some of the toughest issues people faced when they were teenagers, include feeling depressed (29%), worrying about being popular (33%), being bullied (28%) and  worrying about their appearance (51%).

Lydia who enjoyed a happy childhood growing up with her foster siblings said:

All teenagers have worries growing up, whether it’s about how popular you are, the way you look, or struggling with school. That’s why it’s so important to have people who care to talk things through.

The YouGov poll also highlighted how simple little things can help teenagers feel safe, loved and cared for.  When asked how parents and carers should support a teenager, nearly nine in 10 (87%) said they should listen to them, (83%) spend quality time with them and (80%) praise them when they do something well.

Debbie said:

It’s so important to show you care, whether that’s asking them about their day,  or giving them praise when they’ve done something well. As a family we’re so pleased we’ve been able to give this support to young people like Ellie, who has been part of our family for 11 years.

Foster daughter Ellie, 18, explained:

Being part of Debbie and Lydia’s family has made such a positive difference to my life. Just having someone there for you when you get home from school, someone to listen to you, or give you a hug when you need it can make such a difference.

In terms of life skills, nearly 6 in ten (58%) of all those surveyed said they learnt how to clean their house from their parent/carer, while more than half (55%) learnt how to clean their clothes and being taught how to save money (47%).

Ellie said:

I’ve learnt how to do so many practical things like doing the washing and paying bills which will help me now I’m going to be living more independently.

It’s important teenagers have this support; knowing your foster carer and family is there for you when you need them means everything.

While fostering may be challenging Debbie and Lydia said it’s been rewarding, fun and one of the best things they’ve ever done.

Lydia said:

It was amazing growing up in such a huge, fun and loving family with so many different teenagers and children. I’ve really enjoyed being a foster sister to them all. Being a part of their lives has been incredible. I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way.

Debbie added:

It’s not always easy being a foster carer but being able to have such a positive impact on the lives of so many youngsters is wonderful.

Becoming a foster carer was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made and I’d urge people to get in touch with Barnardo’s if they want to find out more about becoming one too.

Barnardo’s Chief Executive, Javed Khan said:

Without enough foster families thousands of teenagers risk the heartbreak of being moved around and separated from their siblings.

Foster families support teenagers and help them learn essential life skills which are vital in helping them go on to lead positive independent lives.

Being a teenager can be tough but having the support of a stable caring family can transform their lives. I’d urge anyone considering becoming a foster carer to contact us today.

To enquire about fostering visit Barnardo’s website at www.barnardos.org.uk/fostering


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