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Suffolk couple speak of difficulties of caring for a foster child over Christmas

PUBLISHED: 10:48 01 January 2019 | UPDATED: 10:48 01 January 2019

Suffolk foster couple Paul and Donna Wright Picture: LOWMAN PR

Suffolk foster couple Paul and Donna Wright Picture: LOWMAN PR

Archant

A Suffolk couple who have fostered more than 15 children during the past six years have spoken out about the difficulty of caring for a youngster over the festive period.

Little Acorns Fostering agency in Haverhill is rated outstanding by Ofsted. Left to right, Ana Freitas, Cheryl Jillions, Mick Jillions, Emily Shore and Jo Bilbow Picture: GREGG BROWNLittle Acorns Fostering agency in Haverhill is rated outstanding by Ofsted. Left to right, Ana Freitas, Cheryl Jillions, Mick Jillions, Emily Shore and Jo Bilbow Picture: GREGG BROWN

Donna Wright, 43, and husband Paul, 40, from Barrow, near Bury St Edmunds, have been fostering children via the Little Acorns Fostering Agency since 2013.

The couple have three children of their own and are currently caring for five siblings aged between five and 16.

Mrs Wright said: “Christmas can be a very emotional time for foster children as no matter how difficult a background they come from many of them just want see their parents or loved ones.

“Our role as foster parents is to reassure those children who often find this time of year quite upsetting.

“We show them lots of care and love to help them enjoy the festive period like most other children can. Just seeing the smile on the children’s faces when they open a gift and interact with other children is so rewarding.

“For us as foster parents it is also nice to receive cards or text messages from children with have supported in the past as we know we made a big difference to that child’s life.”

Little Acorns Fostering, based in Great Wratting, near Haverhill, recruits, works closely with local authorities and social services in west Suffolk, north Essex and south Cambridgeshire to ensure children are placed with the most appropriate family to meet their individual needs.

Mrs Wright added: “Fostering children can be very difficult and at times it is no bed of roses. However, with dedication and the right approach you can make truly positive changes, which is just so rewarding.

“Some of the children come to us with serious behavioural problems, they can be aggressive and have little social skills as they have never been shown any boundaries or taught how they should conduct themselves.

“For many of these children being in a loving family environment brings sheer happiness and once they are taught right from wrong we often see dramatic improvements in their behaviour, social skills and academic performance.”

Little Acorns launched an appeal in July after figures by the Fostering Network showed an additional 610 foster families were needed in the east of England in 2017.

Since the appeal, there has been a significant increase in enquiries about becoming a foster parent.

“Cheryl Jillions, registered manager at Little Acorns Fostering, said: “As Donna says this time of year can be very difficult for vulnerable children, especially those still in care.

“This is a timely reminder for the need for more foster parents to come forward in the east of England.

“We are delighted our appeal has started to encourage people to enquire about becoming a foster parent, however we still need many more people to come forward to meet the short fall in our region.

“Without more foster families coming forward some children may find themselves living a long way from their home towns, schools and friends and being split up from their brothers or sisters, which could have a detrimental effect on their behaviour.”

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