Celebrating the commitment, passion and dedication of foster carers in Gwynedd

Date: 09/05/2022
Meleri Fflur 2

Over the last two years, families across the country have been hit hard by the impact of the pandemic.

 With people not able to see loved ones, schools being closed and lines of support difficult to access, communities across Wales have found other ways to support one another during these most testing of times. This is even more true for fostering families.

 Many have used this difficult period as an opportunity to create an altogether more positive ‘new normal’ - not only in their lives but in the lives of local children. According to Foster Wales, over 350 families in Wales started fostering with their local authority during the Covid-19 pandemic.

 This Foster Care Fortnight (9-22 May,) Foster Wales wants to celebrate the difference that foster carers have made to children’s lives in Gwynedd. From foster carers who have shown dedication over many years to those just starting their fostering journey to help give children a better future.

 Foster Care Fortnight is the UK’s biggest foster care awareness raising campaign, delivered by leading fostering charity, The Fostering Network. This year’s theme is 'fostering communities' and the campaign will focus on the commitment, passion and dedication of foster carers. It hopes to shine a light on the many ways people in the fostering community have supported each other during the Covid-19 pandemic – and to highlight the need for more dedicated foster carers.

 Morwena Edwards, Corporate Director and Statutory Director of Social Services at Cyngor Gwynedd said: “The last two years have certainly been challenging but we’ve seen such compassion and selflessness from our foster carers in Gwynedd, and across Wales. They have opened their doors to children and given them a safe place during the Covid-19 pandemic when the rest of the country were struggling to even see their own families.

 “Fostering has had to adapt to the strange circumstances we all found ourselves in and our foster carers really stepped up to provide outstanding care and support for children and families who needed them. We want to say a big thank you and convey our appreciation for everything they've done.”

 Gwynedd Council is one of 22 local authority teams in Wales, working together as Foster Wales, a national network of not-for-profit fostering services.

 Foster Wales wants to encourage more people to become foster carers for their local authority so that children can remain in their local area, close to their friends and family and remain in their school. This can help children and young people retain their sense of identity during an otherwise turbulent time.

 One foster carer who decided to open up her heart and her home to care for children and young people in the last 18 months is Meleri Fflur Williams, 29 from Bala. Meleri became a foster carer with Foster Wales Gwynedd in 2021.

 “I was approved as a foster carer during the lockdown, which meant that I could provide respite care for other local foster carers. The Foster Wales Gwynedd team have been there whenever I have had any questions or whenever I felt that I needed the support or to debrief after the child has left.

 “I’d encourage people to foster with their local authority. The support that you get is brilliant, and it also means that the children can remain in their local communities, which is what we need for every child.”

 Meanwhile Sian Edwards, also from Bala, is an experienced foster carer of 19 years. Along with the Gwynedd Foster Wales team, Sian now supports new foster carers in the local area.

 “Here in Bala, we're really blessed to have such an amazing group of foster carers in the area. All different ages, some doing respite, and others doing it full time. It’s all about having a group of different people with different skill sets. I really feel we've got that here in Bala and if you're enthusiastic, you can enthuse other people as well.

 “During the pandemic, having that community of other foster carers around you became even more important. We really stepped up as a group of friends.

 “One of the things I love about being a foster carer in Bala is that the children are grounded and they feel part of the community, and they've got people looking out for them. That helps them feel more secure and it helps with their development. It also helps them to grow up as responsible members of a community. We all need to feel that we belong, and that we belong to something.”

 Alastair Cope, Head of Foster Wales, the national network of local authority fostering services added: “Most people don't realise that it's your local authority, your local council, who take care of children when their family are experiencing difficulties or when children are living with abusive and neglectful situations, and it’s your local authority who finds them a safe place and is responsible for them.

 “There is a wealth of knowledge in the Foster Wales local authority fostering team and dedicated social workers who all work together with local families and local schools to build better futures for local children. 

 “By fostering locally, you are helping children to stay in their community, with the surroundings, accent, school, language, friends and activities they know. It keeps them connected, builds stability and confidence.

 “We'd encourage people not just to foster, but to foster with their local authority, which is part of Foster Wales, a not-for-profit organisation responsible for the children in our care.”

 To find out how you can foster in Gwynedd, visit: fosterwales.gwynedd.llyw.cymru


Meleri Fflur - Meleri Fflur Williams from Bala became a foster carer with Foster Wales Gwynedd in 2021.