Facing an empty nest? Ever thought about Fostering or Supported Lodgings?

When grown-up children leave home – for jobs or university – it can be a difficult time for some parents. The house can be just too quiet, too empty.

Dorset County Council suggests this could be the perfect time for people to consider opening their doors to a vulnerable child or young person. Someone who wasn’t lucky enough to have had a safe and stable home life.

There are opportunities for people to foster children or teenagers, either full-time or for short breaks.

Foster carer, Cheryl Handibode, said:

“I’ve been fostering for about nine years. I generally foster children with disabilities on short respite breaks, and I take in children in an emergency when we get a phone call to say there’s a child that needs a bed for the night can you help? I’ve got a particular child that’s been coming for many years for respite breaks and he’s the same age as my son and they’ve got such a unique bond. It’s something that I wouldn’t go back and change because it’s been a very positive experience for our family.”

Another option is Supported Lodgings, where people offer a room in their house to a young person who is leaving care to embark upon an independent life. People just need to offer a bedroom, the use of a kitchen, bathroom and sitting room, and emotional and practical support when necessary.

For both options, there are no stereotypes. People can be any age (over 21), single or living with a partner, and of any sexual orientation.

Cllr Steve Butler, Cabinet member for safeguarding at Dorset County Council, said:

“If you don’t like the thought of having an empty house, this is one way of keeping the fun and laughter in your home while supporting a child or young person in need.”

“We offer generous fees and allowances, and will support you along the way. If you think you could make a difference – please get in touch.”

For more information, visit www.dorsetforyou.gov.uk and search for fostering or supported lodgings. Or call 01305 225568 (fostering) or 01305 225809 (supported lodgings).