A COUPLE has spoken out about the importance of fostering teenage children after an appeal was launched to encourage residents in the area to do the same.

According to Cumbria County Council (CCC) around 65 per cent of children in care across the county are over the age of 10.

Foster carers Lynn and Brian Hibbert, of Kendal, have been fostering teenage boys for the past 15 years.

“Not a lot of people want to foster teenagers but I feel such empathy and such a connection with them,” said Lynn, 63.

“Someone has to be there for these children.

“The biggest reward is seeing them blossom which can happen surprisingly quickly in a therapeutic environment.”

The couple said the council offered them “great” support and training which has given them the confidence and the tools to start fostering.

“From our initial inquiry to being approved only took four months and then we had our first child, a boy of 11, placed with us. He’d had a huge number of placements before he came to us and really tested us at first but we kept on hanging in there. In fact, we’ve never given up on any of our kids.

“At the start we were naïve about the challenges fostering brings but we had some great support in those early days which helped get us through.

“New carers need a good support package and we had a weekend of respite every month, sessions with a counsellor and our support social worker on the other end the phone.”

CCC’s appeal is looking for caring and dedicated people to sign up as foster carers to help children over the age of 10 in a bid to prevent Cumbrian youngsters being placed in residential care or with carers outside the county.

A spokesperson from the council said: “Currently around 20 per cent of children aged 10-18 are placed outside of the county due to a lack of carers for older children in the county.

“This is an exciting opportunity for those looking to make a direct and positive impact on the lives of children, while also having flexibility and independence in a role where they are supported every step of the way.”

l On Monday, December 2 a fostering drop in session will be held at Costa Coffee in Elephant Yard, in Kendal between 11am to 1pm.

l On Wednesday, December 4, a private appointment between 1.30pm and 4.30pm may be booked at Ulverston’s Children’s Centre at Lund Terrace. For more information visit eventbrite.co.uk and search for ‘fostering information in Ulverston’.