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Could you change the life of a vulnerable young person?

The UK’s largest fostering charity is calling for more foster parents in the Westcountry to come forward to care for vulnerable children and teenagers who haven’t had the best start in life.

The call from TACT Bristol & South West coincides with the launch of Foster Care Fortnight which runs from Monday 14 May to Sunday 27 May – a nationwide campaign organised by the Fostering Network to highlight the need for more foster carers in the UK.

This year Foster Care Fortnight has support from a number of celebrities, many of whom have experience of the care system themselves, including actress Samantha Morton, baker Lorraine Pascale, singer Gareth Gates and children’s author Jacqueline Wilson.

According to the Fostering Network, every 22 minutes a child comes into care needing a foster family.

At least 8,750 new foster families will be needed in 2012 alone to provide children in care the safe and stable homes they need. In the South West, 550 new foster carers will be needed this year to meet the demand.

Elaine Graham, Area Manager for TACT Bristol & South West, explains: “Since the tragic death of baby P in 2007, more and more children have been coming into care. Most children in care live with foster families, and so thousands of new foster carers are desperately needed.

“Children should be able to live with a foster carer whose skills and experience meet their individual needs. The shortage of carers means fostering services often struggle to find the right home for a child, first time. All too often children have to live with a foster family a long way from their home, get split up from siblings, and have to move from family to family and school to school.

“A wider pool of foster carers with the right skills and qualities would help ensure the right homes are found for children first time, giving them the best chance of a happy childhood and a better start in life.”

TACT is the UK’s largest charitable fostering and adoption agency. All TACT carers are given excellent training with 24 hour support and a break from care when they need it. The charity pays between £337 and £445 per week per child, plus additional allowances for birthdays, festivals and holidays.

“There’s no such thing as an ‘ideal’ foster carer,” says Elaine Graham. “Whether you have a family or are living on your own, as long as you are willing to undertake training, which will equip you to support  children and the time and energy to provide a child with a happy home, we would like to hear from you. In particular we urge more single people, gay men and lesbians, disabled people and people from black and minority ethnic backgrounds to come forward.

“Many of our young people tell us their TACT placement has changed their life – it is impossible to underestimate the value of providing a stable, loving home to vulnerable young people.”

For more information about fostering and the work of TACT Bristol & South West, please call 0117 927 7725, email bristol@tactcare.org.uk or visit www.tactcare.org.uk.

You can follow us on Twitter at @TACTFosteringSW or Facebook at www.facebook.com/TACTBristolandSouthWest.

For more on Foster Care Fortnight and this year’s 22 Minute campaign, visit www.22minutes.org.uk where you can also watch films of foster carers and read their blogs.

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