A Keswick mother-of-five and her husband have added to their already large family — by fostering two brothers.
Catherine and Andrew Stone answered a Cumbria County Council advert last year to become long-term carers and in November had the boys — aged three and nine — placed with them.
“We like having a busy house,” said Catherine.
“I was a childminder for 20 years so there has always been a lot of children in and out.”
The couple went through the approval process through the first lockdown and between April and September attended a number of online meetings and assessments.
At first they were given information and then had a social worker visit their home to take a look round and explain what fostering involved.
They were then introduced online to other couples and individuals who were considering becoming foster carers.
There were further discussions and Catherine and Andrew, who is a joiner, were able to listen to first- hand experiences from foster parents and children.
When the couple decided that they still wished to go ahead and foster, they had six, two hour online sessions with social workers where they were asked a lot of personal questions and their backgrounds were delved into.
“They did ask a lot of very personal questions but we did not find it too much,” said Catherine. “There was nothing that we were not happy to talk about.”
Catherine said they had been considering fostering for a couple of years but only had the space to accommodate an expanded family when they moved into a five-bedroomed house.
“We have five children of our own and they have had their own issues,” said Catherine.
“We felt it was something we would be able to manage, enjoy doing and get a lot out of.
“We enjoy being around children and looking after them.”
Catherine has spoken out about the placement process as the county council urges people who want to make a real difference to the lives of local children, to consider fostering.
The council already supports a community of more than 250 fostering households across Cumbria but with more than 700 children in care, there is a need for more foster carers to come forward – particularly those with room to foster siblings or slightly older children long term.
There are many different kinds of fostering, from emergency and short-term, through to long-term and specialist fostering, and also a family-based short breaks scheme for disabled children.
For more information visit cumbria.gov.uk/fostering or call 0303 333 1216.