Hampshire County Council celebrates fostering communities during Foster Care Fortnight

Hampshire County Council is celebrating Foster Care Fortnight by shining a light on the support available for foster carers in the local community and through support groups. This year’s campaign focuses on fostering communities and runs from 9-22 May

May 9 2022

Councillor Roz Chadd, the County Council’s Executive Lead Member for Children’s Services, said: “This year’s theme is fitting as we approach the one-year anniversary of the Hampshire Hive, a support network that brings together fostering communities in different local areas. Fostering brings unique rewards and challenges and the Hampshire Hive project recognises the importance of foster carers being able to access support from like-minded people with similar experiences.

“Strong support for foster carers ultimately translates into even more benefits for the children in their care, and that is why the role of community support is so important. I want to say a big thank you to all of our fostering communities for consistently supporting and uplifting each other – and, of course, for all the fantastic work they do for some of our county’s most vulnerable children and young people.”

Foster Care Fortnight is an annual campaign run by The Fostering Network to raise the profile of fostering and show how foster care transforms lives. Last year saw the launch of the Hampshire Hive - a support network which effectively creates an ‘extended family’ for foster carers and the children they look after. Led by Hive Carer Support Workers, who are foster carers themselves, individual local ‘Hives’ offer peer-to-peer support, advice and guidance to carers; as well as social events where carers and children across the community can all come together.

At a recent social event for foster carers and Hive Carer Support Workers, carers commented that their hives are a "place for mentoring, advocating and supporting each other." One Support Worker said: "Sometimes you might be going through a challenging time and just knowing someone is there if you need them takes the pressure off.”

Since launching, the pilot has grown to include 12 Hives located in Basingstoke, Andover, Aldershot/Farnborough, Winchester, Eastleigh, Bitterne, Gosport, Totton and Waterside, Ringwood, South West New Forest (covering Lymington to Poole), and two Hives in Waterlooville. The project forms part of a wider package of support for foster carers, including – but not limited to - extensive training, buddies and support groups.  

Lynda, a Hive Carer Support Worker responsible for Eastleigh, said the standard of support she receives from the County Council is "excellent" and added that "having the Hives makes it easier to ask for help and… makes fostering more sociable.” Orlanda, a Hive Carer Support Worker covering South West New Forest, commented: “I’ve got a wonderful Supervising Social Worker at Hampshire; they’ve helped me so much and not just with emotional support but practical support too.”

Support for foster carers is also available through the Hampshire Fostering Network, which works closely with the County Council and advocates for carers, putting forward their collective views where necessary. The network also provides confidential peer to peer support and guidance as well as organising events that bring fostering families together to have fun, meet others in similar situations and share experiences. In doing this, it supports the County Council to extend its positive and nurturing environment for foster carers and help make their fostering experience a good one.

Full details of all the support available for foster carers, including via the Hampshire Hive, is available on the Hampshire County Council fostering website.

Hampshire residents who would like to find out more about fostering with the County Council should visit hants.gov.uk/fostering where they will find a wealth of resources, information and online events designed to answer their queries.