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"It's about being part of a bigger family": our social events

Friday 26 June 2020
Foster families and Action for Children staff playing tug of war at an event

We caught up with our Head of Fostering for England, Debbie Tomlinson, to talk about what happened at our fostering events last year

“Attending our local fostering events is definitely one of the highlights of my year. In those moments of interacting with fostering families and seeing everyone together, it motivates me to do my best. It reminds me what a difference we make to children’s lives and my role in that.

“Last year I drove down from the Midlands to meet with our Fostering South West and Short Breaks teams at the Adrenaline Quarry, in Cornwall. I loved that the service organised a cake for Action for Children’s 150th birthday, it was so special to be part of that celebration with our fostering families and staff. It was actually my first experience of cutting a cake, I didn’t even have a cake at my own wedding!

A birthday cake with the Action for Children logo

“The scariest bit of the day was the zipwire. I’d watched our young people going down with ease, and I felt the pressure to appear calm and confident, but I was genuinely scared. It was a new experience for me. I must confess that I did do a little scream at the end, I don’t think anyone heard me!

“At all events it’s nice to put a face to a name, meeting the whole fostering family especially foster carers' birth children who we hear so much about but don’t always see. I was part of a fostering household growing up. Sadly we were not invited to go along to events, so I really love to see birth children getting involved and being part of the fun.

Our fostering staff zip-lining at a summer event

“It’s about being part of a bigger family, to have time together to connect and celebrate in our successes. At these events we are one big family, everyone is having fun.

“I always enjoy speaking to our new carers who have just gone through the process and finding out about their experiences. It’s nice to have a good chat face to face where you can get to know people. I remember meeting one foster carer who picked up on my Midlands accent and guessed the exact area where I grew up! It’s so endearing when you find personal connections with people at events.

Foster carers received awards for length of service, some had been with Action for Children over 20 years.

“I remember at Fostering South’s summer fun day I had a jumping session on the bouncy castle with one of the young people. I quickly realised that my fitness level left a lot to be desired! Couch to 5k is still an ambition of mine! Our CEO also attended and staff got involved by helping with the face painting and activities, including a sports day. It was a great day enjoyed by everyone.

"Foster carers received awards for length of service - some had been with Action for Children over 20 years. A couple of the carers chose to give small speeches, and even one foster child jumped up to praise her carer.

Our fostering staff smiling and holding an Instagram photo frame

“There is uncertainty about whether we will be able to meet face-to-face this summer, we just don’t know what this year will look like. We are running virtual support groups, quizzes and coffee mornings online at present. Having that human contact is important. 

“Once it is safe to do so, we will continue to meet up with our fostering families. I find that the informal, relaxed bits are the best times to take a moment to engage with our carers and young people and show them that we really do care.”

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