From Left to Right: John Yerkess, Diana Yerkess, Rory Stewart MP
Rory Stewart MP is backing a call for people of Penrith and The Border to consider fostering, and to learn more about fostering during national Foster Care Fortnight, organised by The Fostering Network. The local MP learnt more about how fostering works, and how it can benefit some of the the most vulnerable children in Cumbria, by visiting a local foster family in Penrith together with supervising social worker Jodie Foster from Family Fostercare Cumbria which is a member of the network. John and Diana Yerkess, who welcomed Rory into their home to meet with their foster children, talked to the MP about how they became foster parents, and how meaningful the role is both to them and to the children they have supported.
This year alone 8,370 new foster carers are needed across the UK, to make sure that the rising numbers of children requiring a stable family life are given the best chance of finding a caring foster family, who can crucially help them to build a positive future. There is a particular need for foster carers to look after teenagers, disabled children, and sibling groups. The great national need for foster carers means that many children end up living far from home, separated from their brothers and sisters, and losing touch with family and friends.
Speaking at the home visit, Rory thanked Mr and Mrs Yerkess for the commitment they have made to helping provide a safe and stable home environment to young children, praising them for their dedication and for fostering eight children over the course of six years. He said: “Fostering is something that is so important in our society, and I have learnt a great deal on today’s visit, for which I would like to thank Mr and Mrs Yerkess. We desperately need more people to come forward and open their homes to some very vulnerable young children who might otherwise miss out on something so very important: a carefree childhood. Foster carers like John and Diana are doing a tremendous thing, providing the very best possible start in life where it is needed most. I do hope that other people will consider doing the same, if they have the means and the energy to do so.”
Donna Turner at local Cumbrian fostering agency said: “It was a real pleasure to meet Mr Stewart today and to see our local MP taking an interest in fostering. We hope that his visit will encourage people to consider fostering – it’s one of the most important jobs you can take on, and an incredibly rewarding way to earn a living. If Mr Stewart’s visit helps to encourage even just a handful of people to come forward to find out more then that’s great. As he has seen today by meeting with Mr and Mrs Yerkess, just one foster carer can make a world of difference to scores of children over their career, but there are still a great many children every year in Cumbria who we can’t find foster homes for. When you consider the proven benefits in terms of long-term outcomes that fostering has for children, it’s a tragedy that so many children – especially teenagers, sibling groups and children with disabilities – have to miss out.”
Jackie Sanders of The Fostering Network said: “We are absolutely thrilled to have Rory Stewart MP’s support for this year’s Foster Care Fortnight. It shows that he recognises the need to make sure that the children and young people of Cumbria who most need love, care and support, have it.”
Rory Stewart is encouraging constituents who feel that they have the skills and qualities to foster, to get in touch and by finding out more at www.fostering.net