Everybody deserves a safe space and support, and Cumbria County Council is doing its bit to see all children – no matter how old they are – find a place to call home.

The county's fostering service is launching a campaign to break the myths around fostering teens to encourage more people to foster older children.

With the most common belief that teens will be "troubelmakers", the team stressed they are in care for the same reason as young children – it's not their fault.

Being a teenager can be a confusing, emotional and challenging time for any child, and going through family breakdown or upheaval can make life very difficult for some, and it's vital that vulnerable teenagers get the support and stability they need to help them become well-adjusted adults.

Whitehaven’s Fiona and Bob Diamond, long-term foster carers of a 15- and 17-year-old, said: “Teenagers often get a bad reputation but I’ve only had positive experiences.

"Any child just wants to feel safe and have a secure base, whatever their age, and as foster carers you can have a big influence on the children and their future."

Fiona continued: “I always thought I might be at a disadvantage fostering because we don’t have kids of our own but you learn how to deal with your own foster children and respond to their needs and we’ve had some excellent training to help us, as well as great support from social workers and other carers.

“You don’t need any special skills to foster teens, you just need to be a good listener, have patience and not be too precious about things.

“The reward for us has been to see the children grow in confidence and to see them develop into quirky, intelligent and smart individuals.

"Both of our children really love school and college and have a 100 per cent attendance, and both plan to go on to university. I can’t imagine our life without them now and they know we are here for them – this is their home for as long as they want it to be.”

About 44% of Cumbrian children in care are teenagers, and without more people coming forward to offer them secure and nurturing homes, these young people may have to go into residential care or to live with carers outside the county – away from everything familiar to them.

Councillor Anne Burns, cabinet member for Cumbria County Council’s children’s services, said: “Foster carers are so important in helping to nurture, guide and support children who may not have had the best start in life.

"It is, therefore, vital that new carers come forward who in particular can support teenagers and be a positive influence in their lives.

“We need people from all walks of life to help young people reach their potential. We offer exceptional training and support - you don’t have to be superhuman, you just need space in your life to foster.”

For more information on fostering, and to find out how you can foster a child, visit www.cumbria.gov.uk/fostering.