Mum who grew up in foster care takes on new role in South Tyneside helping young people experiencing a similar start to life

A mum who grew up in foster care has taken on a new role helping young people experiencing a similar start to life.

Tuesday, 14th June 2022, 11:33 am

Nicole Butler grew up with a foster carer in South Tyneside from the age of seven, which she said was a hard but rewarding experience.

Now the 25-year-old has been appointed as ‘care leavers’ ambassador’ for South Tyneside to make sure the voices of young people leaving the care system are heard.

Nicole, who now lives in Sunderland, said: “I look back and think it was hard to be in foster care but it was also rewarding.

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Care leavers ambassador Nicole Butler with Councillor Adam Ellison

"I would not have the life I have now if I had not been in care and if it wasn’t for my foster carers.”

She added: “I applied for this role because I wanted to give back. I didn’t realise it when I was younger but the council is so passionate about helping kids in care and I want to be part of that.”

Nicole said services for young people growing up in care have vastly improved, but she will work with young people to help make them even better.

She said: "Services for young people in care have improved dramatically in recent years and my role is about understanding what is still needed and using that information to help make them even better.

“My foster family is so proud of me and it’s wonderful to be back in South Tyneside where my roots are and seeing the people I grew up around again.”

Nicole is also hoping the role will help her achieve her dream of becoming a social worker or personal adviser – someone who works with young care experienced people to prepare them to leave the care system.

The mum was previously a sessional worker for the council as part of a scheme aimed at improving the life chances of young people leaving care by providing the opportunity to gain hands-on experience in paid roles.

Nicole’s role at South Tyneside Council will see her working with young people in care to see how services can be improved for them.

She will also help identify employment opportunities for young people leaving the care system.

“As someone who grew up in care, I will be better able to relate to young people in the same situation and build relationships with them,” she said.

"I will then be able to feed back their opinions to management and the systems for care leavers will just get better and better.”

Councillor Adam Ellison, Lead Member for Children, Young People and Families, said the care leaver’s ambassador role was part of the council’s work to deliver on its priority of supporting young people in need.

He said: “It is vital that we listen to what young people have to say to fully understand their needs and then seek to shape our services to match those needs. I am confident that Nicole will be an outstanding ambassador, both for young leavers and the council.”