"FOSTER care transforms lives" is the message from Cumbria County Council during this year’s Foster Care Fortnight (May 14-27).

People are being encouraged to consider giving a safe and caring home to a child, young person or siblings to help them "secure a better future".

There are more than 200 foster families across the county, but the council says there is always a need for more, especially people to care for babies up to aged two, older children, brothers and sisters; and those who can offer longer-term placements.

Without more families coming forward, some children may find themselves living far from family, school and friends or being split up from siblings, says the council.

Foster carer Chris Torkington, of Barrow-in-Furness, said: "The main reason I love fostering is seeing the children come to you in quite a desperate and upsetting situation, and when they leave they have a big smile on their face and you know you’ve made a massive difference."

Cllr Anne Burns, cabinet member for children’s services, said: "Every year around 12 per cent of foster carers leave the service due to retirement so there is a constant need to recruit new foster carers. Together with the high number of children who need care, this means we are calling on local people to come forward and find out if being a foster carer could be right for them.

"There are many myths about who can become a foster carer, but what really matters is that someone has the commitment, skills and ability to look after children separated from their own families, and to offer them a stable and secure home.”

For more about fostering, visit www.cumbria.gov.uk/fostering, Facebook @cumbriafosteringandadoption or call 0303-3331216. Drop-in sessions are taking place at venues including Barrow's Hotel Imperial, Cornwallis Street, this Saturday (May 19) from 2pm; and Penrith's Costa, at Angel Square, from midday on Thursday, May 24.