AN ABERGELE couple are leading the call for more people to provide a safe, loving home for children in care.

Tony Foulkes and Cathy Denman-Foulkes are backing Barnardo’s Cymru in its Fostering Week campaign from Monday, September 16 to 22 to encourage more people to recruit more much-needed foster parents in Wales.

Tony, 66, was a father of four when he met and married Cathie, 60, who had none. Together with the charity, the couple have welcomed five children into their homes, the first two for respite care and the others on long-term placements.

Tony said: “We love it. We treat the children as we would our own and give them the opportunity to thrive and progress. I have seven grandchildren and they all integrate really well.

“It’s absolutely brilliant seeing them blossom.”

Over the past decade, Wales has seen a 38 percent increase of children in care looking for foster homes.

The couple have had the support of Barnardo’s Cymru throughout their time fostering and have attended many training courses and developed close links with other foster parents in North Wales who act as a support network for them. They currently care for two children.

Cathie had no children of her own, although she has spent a lot of time with those of family and friends and in the Air Cadets, while Tony has four from a previous relationship. He had also worked with children with special needs and in child protection.

For Cathie and Tony fostering proved to be life changing both for the children they have fostered and for themselves.

Cathie, who works part-time for a local hospice, said:“One young man who has just left us has done amazingly well in his exams and we are so proud of him. People say we’ve done a great job, but it was he who put in the effort, we just gave him the opportunity.”

“I had a wonderful upbringing and I wanted to give other children that same experience.

“All children are challenging but as long as you set up routines and stick to them the children respond. Fostering is about providing a safe place for them, showing them love and giving them as much help and support as you can.

“We constantly reassure them that they can talk to us about anything, we are there for them. When they leave us but still take the time to visit or phone us to tell us they love us, that’s the reward – and they keep us young.”

Tony, who spent many years working with vulnerable families, added: “They are a lovely and they keep us on our toes. We have so much fun with them. I would recommend fostering to others.

“You don’t need to have a background like mine as much of fostering is about common sense, giving children time and attention and just enjoying it. There is support there for you and you know you are doing something good.”

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