Break Therapeutic Fostering has been caring for hundreds of young people and families in East Anglia for more than 40 years.
A team of 300 staff and 800 volunteers provide children in need a shoulder to lean on and a place to call home.
Now they are urging more foster carers to come forward, as well as social workers and respite carers from west Norfolk and Norwich.
Hilary Walshe, manager, said: “We need full time carers as well as carers who could offer respite care – one or two weekends a month and some days over the holidays. We are looking for people from all walks of life who are enthusiastic, caring and motivated – with a desire to learn.”
Working in partnership with Norfolk and Cambridgeshire County Councils, the charity runs seven family homes providing safety and stability for young people who cannot live with their own families.
They categorise their care into four departments - young people in care and moving on, children and young people with disabilities, families in need of support and children at risk.
Factors including parental ill-health, relationship problems, substance misuse and family breakdown lead to the need for foster care, with abuse and neglect the most common reasons.
Could you be a respite carer?
Respite carers offer full-time foster carers short breaks. After building up a relationship with the respite carer, youngsters eventually stay for weekend breaks.
Anne Olivant has been a carer with Break since June last year.
She provides young people regular breaks at her home in north Norfolk, encouraging hobbies and sports.
She said: “I thought I might be too old, being a grandmother, and being on my own, would prevent me from fostering. But I realise the different experiences these children want and that Break has brought out what I have to offer.
“I learn so much from the training and from others in the team. The full time carers tell me how much the child enjoys having a weekend with me and I enjoy it too.”
The Norwich-based charity, which has Jake Humphrey as its patron, holds fortnightly therapeutic support groups for carers, led by psychotherapist Jim Rymer.
He said: “It is a place where we facilitate, in an open and friendly environment, a willingness to be curious about ourselves in the process of getting to know and understand these young people in our care.
“Through the group we reflect upon our own emotions and experiences and how these might impact upon the developing relationship, in so doing we better prepare ourselves to engage more fully with whatever problems and joys we experience along the way. “
Mrs Walshe added that potential carers didn’t “need to be an expert”.
If you are interested or would like more information, contact the fostering team on 01603 670110 or email email@example.com
Information on vacancies and application forms are available from www.break-charity.org/opportunities/vacancies