Family which has fostered more than 100 South Tyneside youngsters continue to make big difference

Joyce Handy, front centre, and Coun Joan Atkinson, back, with Emma Munday, left, and Claire Heslop.
Joyce Handy, front centre, and Coun Joan Atkinson, back, with Emma Munday, left, and Claire Heslop.
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A caring family which has helped to change the lives of over 100 youngsters in South Tyneside is ready to make a difference for another generation.

Joyce Handy, 68, has fostered more than 100 young people since becoming a foster carer nearly 30 years ago, and now her two daughters are following in her footsteps.

I started to foster because of the positive experience I had living in a fostering environment

Claire Heslop

Claire Heslop, 37, and Emma Munday, 40, have already started to foster children.

Emma was 13 and Claire was 10 when their parents first started to foster.

Claire said: “From being young, I always knew I would foster.

“I started to foster because of the positive experience I had living in a fostering environment.”

Emma added: “We were excited when we started fostering.

“We got a real buzz out of children coming into our home.”

All three women are supporting the Fostering Fortnight campaign, which runs until Tuesday.

Run by leading charity the Fostering Network, the theme of this year’s campaign is Time to Foster, Time to Care.

Emma said: “People tend to rule themselves out of fostering, but all a child really needs is consistency and stability.

“The only thing that really matters is your ability to care for a child.”

Claire added: “The rewards are not always immediate in fostering, but a lot of the children who are now grown up still keep in touch with us, and it’s lovely to see the input we gave as a family still resonates with them.

“Seeing that as a family we have been able to make a difference is wonderful.”

Coun Joan Atkinson, Lead Member for Children, Young People and Families at South Tyneside Council, said: “It is inspirational to see that fostering brings such huge rewards to our carers.

“Along with the fantastic training, fostering can really be a life-changing experience for both the young people in their care and the foster carers themselves.

“I would encourage anyone thinking about fostering to come along to one of our regular information sessions on the last Thursday of every month.”

The next information session for people considering fostering with South Tyneside Council will be next Thursday between 6pm and 8pm at 16 Barrington Street, South Shields, NE33 1AN.