Bradford foster carers have been recognised and awarded for the selfless work they do looking after some of the city’s most vulnerable children, at a special awards ceremony organised by Bradford Council.
The awards are the Fostering Service’s opportunity to thank its carers and celebrate their achievements in supporting Bradford’s most vulnerable children. The ceremony was held on Monday 10 July 2017 in City Hall and celebrated the long service, commitment and dedication of Bradford’s foster carers.
Three inspirational fostering families in Bradford were also celebrated as exceptional carers at the Awards ceremony, alongside recognition and commendation of all the fostering families who have achieved long service milestones of between 10 and 35 years.
Cllr Val Smith said:
“Bradford’s foster carers dedication and commitment to the most vulnerable children in our city is amazing. It has been humbling and very moving to hear all their wonderful stories of love and care. It was fantastic to see them receive their awards from the Lord Mayor and to share this special moment with them.”
Michael Jameson, Strategic Director Children’s Services opened the ceremony with a speech about the importance of the work that carers do in keeping making a fantastic difference to our children’s lives.
Jim Hopkinson, Deputy Director Children’s Services, announced each carer receiving a long service award. The Lord Mayor, Cllr Abid Hussain, presented each carer with a certificate of appreciation. Carers who had reached 15 years or more also received a bouquet of flowers and those carers who had achieved 20, 25, 30 and 35 years also received an engraved crystal award in recognition of their long service.
For the new Exceptional Carer Award, social workers in the fostering service were asked to nominate carers who had shown exceptional service over the past year – 21 carers were put forward, which reflects the scale of the number of Bradford’s foster carers who will go above and beyond what is required of them to support and care for a child in need.
The winners and runners up of the Exceptional Carer of the Year Award were selected by a panel made up of the fostering team managers.
Gareth Flemyng, Fostering Service Manager for Bradford Council, invited the three nominees’ champions to explain to the audience of foster carers, social workers, and senior Children’s Services staff, why their carers had been nominated. All three nominees were presented with awards and certificates in recognition of the service they had provided.
The winning foster carers for Exceptional Carer Award of 2017 were:
Evelyn and Raymond Harrison – Mainstream Foster Carers
Evelyn and Raymond’s commitment and dedication to Natty throughout his short life was exceptional. Natty came to them when he was 9 weeks old and he was 12 years old when he passed away. From the very beginning of his life with them, Evelyn and Raymond fully embraced his complexities and loved him like he was their own son. Their whole family life orbited around Natty and his needs.
Natty was born with drugs in his bloodstream and he struggled with a wide range of disabilities and complex health needs due to his mother’s drug addictions during her pregnancy and his difficult birth. These had profound effects on Natty for his whole life – he had significant global developmental delay, severe irritability, microcephaly, severe birth asphyxia and neonatal abstinence syndrome. He was gastrostomy fed and had an ileostomy.
Little Natty was always uncomfortable laying down and would have frequent epileptic fits, which would twist his little body in to painful shapes, so Evelyn spent a lot of his life holding him and carrying him in her arms to give him the comfort and support he needed.
Caring for Natty on a day-to-day basis would have been a huge challenge for any carer, yet throughout the 12 years of his life, Evelyn and Raymond were constant in their commitment and love for him and are slowly coming to terms with his death. They are sensitive and compassionate people who gave Natty an exceptionally good life.
The runners up were:
Mark Smith – Support Care
Mark was nominated because of the support and dedication he has shown since 2015 to a teenage boy. The young man has been through several massive upheavals in his personal life but Mark has remained steadfast providing a trusting, supportive relationship and a safe space for the teenager to be himself and have time away from his stressful home environment and the uncertainties surrounding his future.
As a support carer, Mark provides planned short respite breaks for children after school and a couple of overnight stays over the weekends twice a month, but during this young man’s most stressful period of life when he had nowhere to stay, Mark offered for him to come and stay full time until a permanent home could be found. Mark continues to provide a respite placement for the child and remains the only consistent male role model in his life.
Mary Thompson Lister – Connected Person (Family & Friends Carer)
Mary was nominated for her devotion and commitment to providing a loving and stable family home for her grandchildren. Mary currently looks after her two youngest grandchildren, but she also cared for their older brother and sister, who are now adults. The two younger children have complex needs including ADHD and FASD, along with autistic traits so, through no fault of their own, can be a handful to care for and are constantly on the go from the moment they wake until they fall asleep at night.
Mary has attended lots of training over the years to help her better understand and meet the children’s needs. She is also an outstanding advocate for the children at their school, working with the school to make sure their individual needs are met. She has engaged the children in their wider community and has helped them become involved in the local Royal Legion. Mary has helped the children experience the wider world by taking them on holidays both home and abroad – they are regular visitors at Butlins and have their own red coats.