Verve are the change-makers in foster care recruitment as we support Not for Profit charities to keep our children local to the communities in which they belong. There is a national shortage of foster carers and currently, there are over 12000 children in care who don’t live with at least one of their siblings. Sadly, many of them are older children and the hardest age group of children who are fostered; this needs to change.
Four years ago, I set up Verve Recruitment Limited because I’d worked in fostering marketing/ recruitment for a local Independent Fostering Agency. I was successful, and recruited a lot of wonderful foster carers for them. However, we were acquired by a very large Independent Fostering Group. And although I stayed on after the merger, the homely feel of a small family business went. We were now a corporate, and that didn’t sit well with me.
The problem was I understood Corporate.
The problem was, I understood corporate. I knew the corporate world and had a long and successful career working within the Television & Broadcast sector. But, like many, I wanted a career change, so I went back to education, studying childcare, child psychology and child & adolescent counselling. My social care pedagogy is Highscope. I love working with children and young people and endorse the learning benefits and health, both physical and mental of the outdoors.
However, my path of life led me to foster care recruitment. I saw an ad for a foster care recruitment advisor for a local independent fostering agency. I knew little about foster care, but I knew plenty about recruitment and applied for, and got the job.
I don’t know why I applied for that job; the pay was awful and realistically; I had stepped back. However, I made it my business to learn as much as I could about supporting children in foster care by recruiting people I knew would make the biggest impact for them. That was how naïve I was. However, I soon learned about the vulgar profits made from vulnerable foster children, children living in children’s homes, and those learning at alternative education provision in the private sector. I was clueless.
I also realised that to meet the needs of our community, families and children and really make a difference, we need to know what types of care children need most. It became clear. We needed more sibling foster carers, more Parent & Child foster carers, and we needed foster carers to help older children in specialist care such as Step Down foster care. We need more short-term and emergency foster carers within our communities to support families if they become vulnerable, and keeping children local to families and maintain vital contact.
Verve & Armed Forces Veterans; change-makers in supporting children.
Also, I come from an Armed Forces background. My childhood was spent in Army barracks as my dad served in the Kings Regiment; he was a proud Kingo. My motivation in life, ethics and structure has come from my childhood as the daughter of a serving soldier.
I recognise that many older children in care will not have had stability. I relate to this, and understand the need for stability and structure, and many of my Armed Forces community are foster carers. I know how the young people in their care thrive because of this. I had my two target audiences in mind.
I set up Verve Recruitment to create a fostering recruitment strategy to support the Not- for-Profit sector, Local Authorities and connect with potential foster carers from within the Armed Forces community I know and love. Also, I recruit from my local community who love to give back because they too want to make a difference. However, they do this with a little ball of wool…
I know many Armed Forces Veterans who grew up in the care system or joined the Armed Forces to get away from troubled childhoods. They soon found another family, and bonds of friendship made have lasted throughout lives.
Friendships made before and after leaving service impact have grown within our communities. I realised this when I helped set up the Salford Veterans Breakfast Club over 7 years ago at Pendleton Church. Initially, it was a place to meet fellow veterans, have a brew, or ‘pull up a sandbag’ and chat about times gone by.
However, younger veterans came. They have renewed vigour. For these veterans, they are not ready to pull up a sandbag, they too are driven to make a difference. They now mentor young people in schools to prevent exclusion with Major Chris Chudleigh and the Re-Engage programme.
Also, care leavers, with guidance from Veterans have seen a path for a better life and joined the Armed Forces. They have found success and are reaching goals beyond their imagination, despite the labels attached and the path of life led them as children.
Verve; Every child matters.
Having worked within the Independent Foster Care sector in recruitment, I know the bonuses and profits made by businesses in the UK foster care system. I also know that companies who generate profit provide better services; nothing is wrong with that. However, making millions in profit from vulnerable children and young people by charging exorbitant fees to Local Authorities is wrong.
Vital support services are now closed, and we created a vicious circle where vulnerable children and their families are now the victims. Sadly, lifelines like Sure Start Centres and support networks for families and children are scarce and post code dependent.
Also COVID-19 came to stay and why I started the knitting campaigns. I then networked with community groups and charities with a common aim; getting families’ support to prevent them from becoming vulnerable and reduce the numbers of children going into care.
Together, we gave access to emergency food parcels, knitted baby clothes, and blankets, via blogs and the kindness of a community who wanted to keep money in mum’s purses. This extra money meant mums wouldn’t struggle with the essentials, like paying the mortgage and rent or putting the heating on.
We know it shouldn’t be this way. But, for now, it is, and working together, we prevent families from becoming vulnerable. But it’s a double-edged sword. If Local Councils didn’t have to pay exorbitant fees for foster care provision, residential care and alternative education provision from the private sector, they would have money for support networks.
As a result, families will not become vulnerable. Children are less at risk of going into care and moved from the communities and families in which they belong…
So far, Verve’s campaigns have achieved…
380 + Foster Care/ Supported Lodgings enquiries have been generated and actioned from my social media ads, blogs and recruitment drives.
190+ Amazing Ladies who Knit came forward to support my Knitting campaigns.
150+ Not for Profit Charities and Community groups who collaborate to support vulnerable families.
Over 1000 Knitted Toys have been donated to foster children and local children in my community as Christmas presents.
5000+ Bereavement Blankets, Knitted Hearts, and Teddies have gone to the Pam Woods Bereavement Centre, Salford Royal Hospital to support those affected by Covid 19.
8000 Knitted Baby Clothes, Blankets have gone direct to mums and babies from Sure Start and Community Centres, Mother and Baby units to prevent vulnerability.
Salford Food Parcels provide emergency food to those in need.
Yvonne Simms runs the Salford Food Parcel project and the Holiday Hunger project in Salford. When Yvonne needs Xmas presents for struggling families in Salford, the Armed Forces veterans rise to the challenge. They do this because they are local people who help each other. It’s not because we are charities or community groups, simply, we see something that needs doing, and we do it. If Armed Forces Veterans or families in Salford need emergency food parcels, Yvonne and her young volunteers deliver every time.
Verve’s Knitting Campaigns gave us a purpose…
My Mum was recovering from a stroke, and I asked her to pick up her knitting again to take her mind off things. She did, and her tiny blue cardigan for Jeremiah was the first of thousands we donated to local Sure Start centres, community centres and Mother and Baby units who give them directly to Mums at no cost!
As time passed, we created campaigns for Bereavement Blankets, knitted hearts and teddies for Salford Royal Hospital, and premature baby clothes for the Manchester Royal Infirmary.
Like many women today, Mum knew there was a better way. She had lived through many changes in her life: however; the future scared her. Knitting baby clothes helped her to ease her fears. For others, helping by delivering a home-cooked meal with a smile and a bit of a chat was another way. Another way was to inspire others to do something that made a difference and made them feel good. Mum did that; sadly, she never realised it.
Mum became a casualty of COVID-19, and waiting for over 11 hours for an ambulance meant that for her, survival was not possible. Like many families, we felt the pain of bereavement. We also felt the comfort of the knitted heart given to us by the Swan Team at Salford Royal Hospital. There are many parallels in life that hurt, but comfort drawn from a little ball of wool is immeasurable then and now. I wish I could find the lady who made those hearts and say thank you. But for now, I can’t.
However, that’s another story and with todays technology, anything is possible…
Verve; change-makers in foster care recruitment
We do not know what the future holds, pandemic or no pandemic. However, one thing we know is that children in care need more foster carers. The Verve Community continues to grow and soon we move into our new home at the Spinners Mill in Leigh.
Verve Community CIC will run the Veterans hub and collaborate with them to exchange skills and experience to assist our community and support local children and young people.
At last, our foster care recruitment and knitting campaigns now have a home. We are also blessed to be part of a community with over 100 other charities and community groups, who are also making a difference in their own way in the Spinners Mill with Jo Platt MP.
We offer, together with our partners, SafeGuarden CIC, Re-engage and Major Chris Chudleigh, North West Numbers CIC and offering Veterans Hypnotherapy and Counselling support services utilising digital technology from our corporate partners CDD Services Ltd and provide reduced rates for third sector with the SpotLite system for DBS and Right to work checks…
Our community grows as we collaborate to create positive change. If you would like to be part of our community, please reach out. Together, we create solutions and prevent vulnerability in our communities. And, this makes the biggest difference of all…