People considering fostering have been urged to step forwards after the number of children referred to Barnardo’s fostering services across the UK have risen by 36% in the last year.
The charity reports that there were 19,144 children referred to the charity’s fostering services in the 12 months leading to 31 July 2021, compared to 14,130 in the previous year.
Lynn Perry MBE, Co-CEO (interim), Barnardo’s said: “The pandemic and lockdown measures have piled pressure onto struggling families with job losses, deepening poverty and worsening mental health, contributing to family breakdown. Our survey shows that many people would consider fostering and we urge people to come forward to find out more about what being a foster carer involves - there’s no obligation.”
The charity is urging people to consider becoming a foster carer, particularly to sibling groups, as the number of sibling groups referred to its services in the UK over the same period rose by 31%.
A new YouGov survey for Barnardo’s encouragingly shows that 14% of adults in Britain would consider fostering a child aged 18 or under in the next five years. However, that figure drops to just 6% when asked the same question about fostering siblings.
Yet 70% of adults said it was important that they and their sibling were together when they grew up, with 60% of respondents who had a sibling saying it would have had a negative impact on them if they had been separated while growing up, demonstrating the importance of siblings being placed together.
In England the rise in the total number of children referred to Barnardo’s fostering services was 40%, in Wales it was 5%, in Northern Ireland it was 20%. In Scotland, however, there was a decrease of 17% in total referrals.
Barnardo’s is urging people from all backgrounds from around the UK to come forwards including Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic and LGBT+ communities. The charity particularly hopes to hear from people willing to foster siblings, as they can offer each other support and it can help reduce feelings of isolation.
Lynn Perry concluded: “You could give a home to a vulnerable child when they need it most. Your love and support can allow brothers and sisters to stay together and make a huge difference to their life – and to yours. We welcome passionate individuals from all walks of life. If you are over 21, have a spare room, are a UK resident and have the time and commitment to support a child - you could be the special person they need.”