John Lewis advert hits screens featuring young fostered girl as South Tyneside Council highlights opportunities of foster care in the borough

John Lewis’ newest Christmas advert has pulled on heartstrings as it highlights children in care while South Tyneside Council shares opportunities for foster care across the borough.

With Christmas upon the horizon, the annual festive adverts have been released as John Lewis focuses on a subject ‘much bigger than Christmas’.

The advert features a man struggling to learn how to skateboard before injuring himself trying to master the sport.

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In the final scene, the man’s new skill comes to light as a social worker arrives alongside a young foster child carrying a skateboard.

In South Tyneside, a recent innovative fostering model has proved so successful it is to be expanded again.

The Mockingbird model, which is delivered by leading fostering charity The Fostering Network and is based on the concept of the extended family, will see its third ‘constellation’ launched next week.

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Mockingbird, which was first launched in America, improves the lives of foster children by building positive links with other families in the constellation.

The constellations are led by a hub home foster carer who offers ‘vital’ peer support and guidance to ‘satellite carers’ alongside social activities to strengthen relationships and permanence.

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Undated handout image issued by John Lewis and Partners of their 2022 Christmas advert "The Beginner", which launches at 8.00am on Thursday. The campaign is set to a soundtrack of All The Small Things, a cover of the Blink 182 song by Mike Gier, and raises awareness of children in care. Issue date: Thursday November 10, 2022. PA Photo. The campaign follows the launch of the 'Building Happier Futures' programme from the John Lewis Partnership, which is a long-term commitment to help young people with experience of the care system in a number of ways, including to find meaningful careers. See PA story CONSUMER JohnLewis. Photo credit should read: John Lewis and Partners/PA Wire NOTE TO EDITORS: This handout photo may only be used in for editorial reporting purposes for the contemporaneous illustration of events, things or the people in the image or facts mentioned in the caption. Reuse of the picture may require further permission from the copyright holder.
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The hub carer in the third constellation is South Shields Michelle Deeley who is a single mum with a nine-year-old daughter.

Michelle is care experienced, having spent time in a children’s home and in foster homes as a child and is keen to give something back.

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She said: “When I was 16 I was placed with the most amazing foster carer who became my mam and is nana to all the foster children I have cared for.

Edinburgh actor John Paul Hurley in the John Lewis 2022 Christmas advert 'The Beginner'. PA.
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“The fact that she gave me a chance made me want to give other children the same opportunity I had.

“As I have been in care myself I feel I have a different level of understanding compared to people who haven’t had that experience and that enables me to connect with foster children well and empathise with them.”

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The John Lewis ad hopes the story of a foster child will highlight the issue of numbers of children in care, ending the advert with: “Over 108,000 children in the UK are in the care system. We’re making a long-term commitment to support the futures of young people from care."

Cllr Adam Ellison is pictured with Michelle Deeley, one of the satellite carers in the first constellation in South Tyneside.
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The first Mockingbird model in South Tyneside was for young children while the second was for teenagers and the latest model will be for children of mixed ages as well as those with disabilities.

Following the Mockingbird model, 26 South Tyneside children in the first two constellations have been provided with secure and stable families.

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Michelle added: “Mockingbird is fantastic. Having the extended support made such a big difference, particularly in emergency situations. Now I just want to give back.

"I’ll miss not having any foster children of my own to care for, but by being a hub carer for South Tyneside I will be able to help more than just one family.”

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South Tyneside Council is keen to hear from people interested in fostering. To find out more about fostering, visit www.southtyneside.gov.uk/fostering or contact the fostering service on 0191 423 8500 or email [email protected]