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County Durham foster carers say thank you to John Lewis

Published December 13, 2022 10.30am

Foster carers in County Durham have written to a national retailer to say thank you for shining a spotlight on what they do.

Fostering John Lewis

Left to right: Kay Roebuck and Toni Lowery from our fostering team, carers Gary and Cheryl, and Cllr Ted Henderson

The group of six, who have taken in young people with our support, have penned a joint letter to high street giant John Lewis, following the recent release of its 2022 Christmas TV advert.

The company's festive adverts have become something of an eagerly-awaited annual tradition in recent years, and the 2022 version shines a light on foster carers.

In it, a man is seen struggling to teach himself to skateboard, encouraged by his partner. The advert ends with a nervous young girl arriving at the equally nervous couple's home, clutching a skateboard. A caption tells viewers there are more than 108,000 children in the UK in the care system.

In County Durham, there are currently over 1,000 children in care and we urgently need more carers to join its fostering family, particularly those who feel they could offer a home to teenagers or groups of brothers and sisters.

The six carers were inspired to write to John Lewis as the story in the advert was so similar to their own.

Each member of the group has learned or mastered a new skill since taking children and young people into their care.

Carer Deborah wanted to understand her child's diabetes better so had a temporary medical procedure to mimic the side effects, while Susan and Steve stepped out of their comfort zone to embrace social media and have since produced a TikTok video.

Fellow carer Cheryl has become a master cook and baker since taking in young people, while Gary is now an adventure park and climbing frame master and Lesley a climbing instructor.

In their letter to bosses at the department store, the group thank them for drawing attention to the role foster carers play.

The letter states: "Thank you for choosing to highlight children who are in care through your Christmas advertising campaign this year. As a group of foster carers, we wanted to let you know how much it means to us and to the children we care for.

"The advert is lovely, truly heart-warming and has been a real talking point amongst our community of carers and our children.

"It is particularly nice for the children we care for to see their cause championed in such a high-profile way by such a big organisation...

Anyone who is interested in finding out more about fostering with us can visit our fostering web page or call 03000 269 400.

"As a group of foster carers, we have all experienced exactly what you portray in your campaign this year. The nerves, anxiety and excitement that comes with preparing to welcome a child into your home. The preparation that you put in to making sure you are ready: whether that's getting a bedroom decorated, getting food in you've been told they like, or learning a new skill that they have an interest in so that you instantly have a talking point and something to share...

"Like you, we are proud to champion fostering within our community and working with our fostering team we are collectively doing all we can to bring attention to the issue...

"Thank you once again for your kind attention to this matter we are all so passionate about."

Cllr Ted Henderson, our Cabinet member for children and young people's services, said: "We are always grateful to those who offer to open their home to children and young people, and we are humbled that six of our carers feel so passionate about what they do that they have taken the step of writing this letter to John Lewis.

"It is great that the company has shone a national spotlight on children in care and we would encourage anyone touched by the story in the advert to contact our fostering team if they might be interested in offering a young person a home.

"We hope that other large organisations will be inspired by John Lewis' lead and will do their bit to bring attention to this important issue."