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Wednesday, 30 July 2014

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Pioneer and Carlisle council back fostering campaign

Two organisations employing nearly 900 people between them have become the latest to sign up for the News & Star’s fostering-friendly campaign.

Pioneer MD Graham Jenkins photo
Graham Jenkins

Pioneer Foodservice and Carlisle City Council have pledged to make it easier for their staff to foster children who need a loving home.

The News & Star has teamed up with Cumbria County Council to make it easier for prospective carers to open their homes up for a child in need.

Graham Jenkins, managing director at Pioneer, said there was no question that his company, with its 300 employees, would get involved.

Pioneer will allow five paid days leave for training and flexible hours to allow carers to attend to emergencies if needed.

Mr Jenkins said: “We like to see ourselves as a model employer and we’re one of the biggest and oldest employers in Carlisle.

“I always admire people that can give that time and want to get involved.

“It’s something we have to be involved in and I would encourage any employers to do the same.”

Human resources director Sarah Dhesi feels particularly strongly about fostering, having been adopted as a child.

She said: “I think; ‘there but for the grace of God go I’.

“We’ll be treating foster parents as we would any other parents.”

Currently there are 639 children in care across Cumbria, with 46 aged under one-year-old and 142 aged between one and four. The average age of carers is 52, meaning many are expected to retire soon.

Having fewer fostering families in Cumbria makes it more likely that children will have to be moved out of the county to go into care, taking them away from their school and friends and disrupting their lives even further.

Carlisle City Council, which employs about 580 people, has recognised the needs of carers in its employment policies by helping celebrate fostering and allowing unpaid time off for guardians to attend pre-approval training days.

Leader of the council Colin Glover said: “Foster carers play a vital role in providing a safe, secure and stable environment for children or young people.

“To help our employees with this responsibility Carlisle City Council has registered as a foster-friendly employer.

“This means we are committed to celebrating fostering and foster carers, and recognise their needs. We aim to give carers support and flexibility to balance their work and caring responsibilities.”

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