Our fostering communities: Wessex Youth Group

Tuesday 10 May 2022
Group of happy teens sitting in a circle on the ground and laughing

To celebrate Foster Care Fortnight 2022, we’re shining a light on our fostering youth club in Wessex

There is something incredible happening in our Hampshire fostering service. In a post-lockdown world, our carers came up with an ingenious idea to bring people together. An inclusive youth group where fostering families can meet and build new friendships.

A club for everyone

Fostering social worker Lindzi explains, “The youth group is great! It’s organised by our foster carers and welcomes the whole fostering family. Young people can even bring a friend if they like."

The youth group runs every week, and due to demand, runs for two hours.

Frankie, fostering team manager said, “It had been a great success. It's lovely to see the children and foster carers come together to catch up and socialise. It’s a good opportunity for me and the team to spend time with our foster families in a relaxed environment.”

It's lovely to see the children and foster carers come together to catch up

Frankie, Team Manager

Plenty to do

The group’s emphasis is on interaction and having fun, and they have all the equipment they need.

Lindzi said, “We were able to buy a Nintendo Switch, a large TV, pool table and tennis table, an ice hockey table, and a basketball stand.  In the summer, we'll be able to take the club outside and make use of the green space around our offices.

“We have colouring books and pens and a large table where adults and young people can sit and chat. This is proving quite effective as the young people (and adults!) are engaged in an activity but able to talk and join in as well.”

Pool table

The pool table is popular.

Why is the club needed?

Foster carer Sue* is a regular at the youth group. “Our foster child finds socialising difficult. Going to the club every week has given him the chance to build confidence with his peers and adults. He loves showing others how to play pool and different games on the Nintendo Switch.”

The Anti-Bullying Alliance predict children in care are twice more likely to be a victim of bullying during primary school. Increasing to four times more likely for secondary school aged children.

It's amazing! I like playing pool and other games with other young people.

Albie, foster child

Youth groups like this provide a network of young people who are care experienced with a place to connect.

Sue relates: “Our young person has suffered bullying from peers at school and in the local area. The club gives him the chance to have fun and socialise in a safe environment.”

Teenagers Relaxing with Tea at Youth Club

It's a chance to meet new people.

Fostering a support network

The group is providing fostering families with their own reliable support network.

Sue says, “In the past we have met for events organised by Action for Children. Whilst this has been enjoyable, the club gives us the chance to see carers and young people on a regular basis.”

By helping young people develop independence skills, foster carers can leave their foster children too. Lindzi explains, “Foster carers are always welcome to stay, but can leave knowing children will be safe and looked after.

“It's definitely been a success. As more young people join, our project will prove to be a great meeting point for everyone at the Wessex service!”