FOUR Barrow carers have shared their experience of providing a 'safe place' for vulnerable children where they feel safe and loved.

Cumbria Fostering. working on behalf of Cumberland Council and Westmorland and Furness Council. is seeking more individuals to foster.

In the county, more than 275 foster carers provide love, value and respect to over 725 children.

The Mail: Diane Pye.Diane Pye. (Image: Submitted)One of those carers is Diane Pye, who has been on short-term fostering for the past three years.

She said fostering is something she has 'always wanted to do.'

She said: "We had four children of our own and I also worked with children in education and when our own children were younger we discussed the idea of fostering and decided to wait until a couple of them moved out and it felt like the right time to start fostering.

"This gives us the opportunity to be a safe place for a child to develop and to be loved.

“So far, we have had two children move on, and we are very lucky as their parents to carers do keep in touch with us. One sends us a photo and a little message every Sunday to say what they’ve done that week, and it just brightens up your day to hear from them."

The Mail: Lynne and Rod White.Lynne and Rod White. (Image: Submitted)

Lynne and Rod White are respite carers, which means they foster as and when needed.

The retired couple, who started their journey in 2016, said that fostering has been 'extremely rewarding' for them.

Lynn said: "The reward for me is knowing you are keeping children safe and giving their full-time carers a break."

Rod added: "Seeing the children develop and actually look forward to coming to see us is the biggest reward.  It is lovely when they come in and adopt their own bedroom upstairs and put their soft toys around - it has been great."

Both agree the training and support they receive is excellent.

Rod said: “The training we had prior to fostering was very thorough and gave us an insight into the experiences of the children we’re likely to be accommodating.

"We are never alone – we can always call upon our own social worker or a member of the support group for help and advice."The Mail: Alex Finnie.Alex Finnie. (Image: Submitted)Alex Finnie has been a long-term foster carer since 2011 and is soon to become a mentor to other foster carers.

She said: "There is nothing better in life than making a child feel secure, safe and happy. It's the best I have done in my life."

She previously worked in mental health and took a therapeutic approach to fostering.

She said: "Fostering does have its moments, but it is just a matter of working with the child. If you just take your time with them, this job is so rewarding.”

"They come a bit broken and it is your job to help them heal and to make them understand that their parents still love them. It is just that they are not capable of looking after them so that's when we come in as foster parents.

"We have got to love them and nurture them until they hopefully go back to their families, if not then we do the best to make sure that they have got a good future ahead of them."

Cllr Sue Sanderson, Cabinet Member Children’s Services Education and Skills, said: “Our foster carers come from all walks of life and have had varied life experiences, but they all make a huge difference to children’s lives by offering them the love, security and support they need to thrive.

"It only takes one carer to change a child’s life and we are asking local people, could that be you?

"Fostering is hugely rewarding and there are so many types of care that can be given, from short-term or respite care through to longer-term care for siblings and teens.

"If you think you have the space in your home and your heart, and the skills needed to help children thrive and reach their potential, please get in touch or attend one of our events in your area."