A dedicated foster carer from Doncaster who has looked after hundreds of children over three decades in fostering has been given a special award to recognise her service.
Susan Stott, along with her husband James, were presented with the award at a conference held by the UK’s leading independent fostering agency Foster Care Associates (FCA) as part of its 20th birthday celebrations.
Susan and James were one of FCA’s first carers in the Yorkshire region 18 years ago but have actually been fostering for over 30 years.
Susan, now 56, and from Moorends, explained what had inspired her to become a foster carer at the relatively young age of 23.
She said: “I was inspired to become a foster carer to help vulnerable children who have not had the benefit of a happy and stable home environment that they all deserve.
“I decided to join FCA as two women I had previously worked closely with in fostering had left to set up FCA’s Yorkshire office and I had a great deal of respect for them so got on board as soon as I heard about it.”
“Fostering has its challenges but what keeps me going is seeing the positive difference you are making to a child’s life – what can be more rewarding than that?”
Before joining FCA and caring for vulnerable children on a more long-term basis, Susan had largely looked after children over short periods, so therefore finds it hard to put a number on just how many children have passed through her doors over the years.
“It must be in the hundreds,” she said. “A lot of the children I have fostered I am still in regular contact with and many of them are now in their thirties and with their own children.”
“I am always there for them and it is great to see them doing well for themselves.”
FCA’s UK10K campaign, spearheaded by its ambassador the former England captain and foster carer Mark Wright, aims to tackle the current shortfall of foster carers across the UK.
Susan, who has two adult children of her own, was quick to recommend fostering as a worthwhile and rewarding career.
She said: “I would recommend fostering to anybody really. I do think people really, really need to think about what they can offer the kids and if they have their own children, they need to be fully aware of the impacts of fostering on them.
“They need to keep them involved with the decision-making process and know when a placement is not right for their own children.”
“But if you’ve got the time, the patience and the ability to listen to the children, fostering is great. The other stuff, such as the caring and the compassion, will then just fall into place.”
Fred Lillie, FCA registered manager for the Yorks and Lincs region, presented Susan with her award and paid tribute to her and husband for their fantastic service.
He said: “We have loved having Susan and James as part of the FCA family for such a long time and their dedication and commitment to fostering is unflinching.
“We were delighted to be able to honour them in some small way during what is a special year for FCA and hope they act as inspiration for others to come forward and help make a difference in the lives of vulnerable children.”
People interested in fostering a child or young person should contact FCA on 0800 023 4561 or visit www.thefca.co.uk.
Alternatively ‘like’ the FCA at www.facebook.com/thefcayorksandlincs FCA welcomes applications from single parents, married and co-habiting couples as well as same sex couples.