Luton Council paid tribute to fosters carers who have dedicated many years of their lives to help children in need at an awards ceremony recently.
Foster carers, together with their families and council staff came to Putteridge Bury for the authority’s Foster Carers Long Service Awards to celebrate the valuable work of foster carers and the important role they play in our community.
Awards were presented to 14 foster carers who together had achieved 195 years of fostering service. Foster carers were presented with flowers, gift cards and a certificate by Luton’s Mayor, Cllr Mohammad Ayub and portfolio holder with responsibility for children and young people, Cllr Mahmood Hussain.
Kola Ajala, who received an award for caring for foster children for 15 years and has taken on over 20 placements was described by his supervising social worker, as: “An excellent, experienced foster carer who has never said no to any placement request. He never backs down from a challenge and is always willing to give the young person a chance. He takes the most difficult young people in his home and is known for his ability to turn negative behaviour into positive.”
Kola said: “I foster because I have a heart to care and to love unconditionally. I get satisfaction in being able to make a positive contribution to a young person’s life in the time they are placed with me. I would encourage anyone interested in fostering to give themselves an opportunity to extend their love to those in need of care and a home.
“I definitely feel appreciated and valued as a foster carer by Luton Council’s fostering service.”
Trish and Lee Pinner and Tracey Oakes all have put in five years’ service providing care to vulnerable children and young people.
At the event, Mr and Mrs Pinner were praised for being able to work with a variety of young people, caring for babies, primary aged children and teenagers. They are also valued for the great support they offer to other foster carers.
Trish Pinner said: “We foster because we want to offer children the love, care and support that every child deserves and should have, and that our own children are having. We get out of fostering a sense of doing something that makes a difference both in the short term but also in the long term and it’s great when you get encouragement and feedback from young people you have looked after who have now left care.”
Commenting on the awards ceremony, Lee added: “It’s nice to be recognised and appreciated. It also makes us realise and appreciate how much work our supervising social worker does for us.”
Tracey Oakes has proved herself to be a valuable asset to the fostering service taking on some challenging and difficult placements.
Tracey said: “Fostering humbles you. It makes you appreciate everything that you have in your life and the skills you can offer a young person. It’s the simple things that make all the difference. Small things to us are huge things to a child.
“I foster because of the knowledge that at some point in the young person’s life, they will look back and have happy memories of their time whilst staying with me. And that I played a small part in making their childhood a better experience than what they would have potentially had.”
Cllr Hussain, portfolio holder with responsibility for children and young people, said: “Many of our foster carers go the extra mile to help Luton’s vulnerable children, so it was a real privilege to acknowledge their efforts at our long service awards event. Their willingness to do what is necessary to make foster children feel loved and nurtured is a testament to their dedication and commitment. I applaud all of our foster carers for doing such a great job!”