Across the country, more people are considering whether they can foster. Opening your home to a child or young person can add lots of joy, love and adventure to your life - and we all need more of that!

It’s really important to find more foster carers in all our communities, because it means that if young people come into care, they don’t have to move miles away. They can stay in their same school, and maintain some of their family networks.

Now Foster is working in partnership with Newham Council to support East Londoners to foster.

We want to ensure children and young people are not sent to children’s homes or placed far away from their families.

The team have been door knocking in Forest Gate and meeting residents who are potentially interested in opening their home to a child or young person.

There are some amazing people fostering across Forest Gate (and Newham more widely!) and we’re keen to share some of their stories.

Sue has been living in the community for 38 years, and she brought up her family in the area. She had thought of fostering as a way to “pay back” and support young people, to give them the opportunities her birth children had. When she retired from teaching, she decided now was the time! Sue has been fostering for five years and currently supports one young person who will be with her until they are 18 (or longer).

She has also looked after two young people short-term for 18 months and provided respite support to other families.

Sue’s story shows that there is lots of types of fostering, and they can all bring so much joy:

"One of the best things about fostering is having young people around, watching them settle in, grow and become part of your family. Foster children enrich your family and I wish I’d fostered when my own children were younger. It keeps me young at heart and active, going out and about, and finding interesting things to do. I remember when I had a young person who loved history we all went to Hastings to see the reenactment of the Battle of Hastings. The excitement of going to a hip hop dance show. The fun we had playing in the fountains in the QE park. Things that I certainly wouldn’t be doing otherwise! I love the camaraderie amongst fellow foster carers too, and how we all support each other. As a Foster carer you are never alone."

Farhan* and his wife have been fostering for 18 months. Their birth children are now grown up and they felt they had the space and a little bit of time to support a young person. They signed up to do long-term fostering, and provide a home and stability to a young person until they leave care:

"It's a great opportunity for our family to make an impact. There are so many children in care and we felt we could help provide the home a young person needed to thrive. We have been supporting a teenager who has settled so nicely into our family, and is thriving at school and getting so much praise from their teachers! Everyone has their own reasons to foster, but the bottom line is that fostering can be an incredibly rewarding experience."

With my role as CEO of Now Foster, I've been sharing my personal story with local residents and encouraging other people to think about whether fostering can fit into their lives.

I grew up in Spain as part of a multi-generational family, living in a busy block of flats where everyone was in and out of each other’s homes.

When I started living in England, the idea of the nuclear family completely baffled me, it felt so lonely!

All my family and chosen family was far away, so I started doing more community work, volunteering with children and with older people. One of the children I had met in the community came into foster care, and I trained as a foster carer to support her. I basically ‘fell into’ fostering, but it’s been the best thing that I’ve done over the past decade.

I spend lots of time having coffee all around Forest Gate, so if you are interested in fostering or simply want to discuss how you could fit fostering into your life, you can get in touch!

If you are interested in exploring whether you can join Forest Gate’s fostering family, you can meet the Now Foster team, foster carers and care-experienced young people at Tracks on the evening of the 3rd of July over pizza. Register for a free place here.

For further fostering info check out the website here and for more updates follow @nowfosteruk

*(names changed to protect privacy)