Urgent appeal for foster carers to look after vulnerable teenagers

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Tuesday, September 12th, 2017
Community

Barnardo’s NI foster carer Avril Kenwell from Ballynahinch is backing an urgent Barnardo’s appeal for more foster carers to look after vulnerable teenagers in Northern Ireland.

Speaking to Newry Times, Avril (pictured right), who together with her husband Brian have been foster carers for twelve years, said, “Being a teenager is hard at the best of times and being a teenager in care can be even harder.

 

 

“Having a stable, happy, loving home where you can relax and be yourself while knowing you are genuinely cared for is so important. Every teenager deserves this opportunity,” she insisted.

Avril says she and Brian feel it’s important to foster teenagers because it’s a time in a young person’s life when they can really need someone to be there for them, especially if they have been let down in the past.

“Teenagers need time and patience,” she explained. “If they’re being fostered they probably need to gain confidence and will really need someone to be an advocate for them, especially with school.

 

 

“They might also have missed out on lots of things growing up that other children will have had, like going on a train or spending the day at the beach so it’s about doing those things and sharing those experiences. Teenagers can need a lot of encouragement particularly if they’ve had a hard start in life.”

Avril and Brian Kenwell have fostered two teenagers in long term placements as well as providing short term fostering for many others. Their first foster child was Elaine who lived with them from the age of eleven to eighteen. Although she has now moved out she is still part of their family, visits regularly and still calls her old bedroom ‘Elaine’s room’.

A YouGov survey for Barnardo’s which included Northern Ireland reveals some of the toughest issues people faced when they were teenagers including: struggling with school, worrying about not having friends, being bullied and feeling depressed.

 

 

The poll also highlighted how simple things can help teenagers feel safe, loved and cared for. When asked how parents and carers should support a teenager nearly nine in 10 (87%) said they should listen to them, (83%) spend quality time with them and (80%) praise them when they do something well.

Barnardo’s NI Director Lynda Wilson said, “Without enough foster families for teenagers they can miss out on the care and support they need to equip them for adult life. Foster families help teenagers learn essential life skills that other young people learn from their parents including, how to cook, clean, wash clothes, use public transport and do small DIY tasks like changing a light bulb.

“Skills which are vital in helping them go on to lead positive independent lives. Being a teenager can be tough but having the support of a stable caring family can transform their lives. I’d urge anyone considering becoming a foster carer to contact us today,” Lynda added.

 

 

To enquire about fostering with Barnardo’s NI T: 028 9065 2288 or visit www.barnardos.org.uk/fostering


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