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