Instead of writing a blog about what I've been up to, I wanted to talk about something more important, something less trivial and, seeing as though it's Fostering & Adoption Week for Barnardo's, I felt that this is what we should all take a minute to remember.
I was honoured to have been asked to become an ambassador last year for Barnardo's. Children can be in the most vulnerable and disadvantaged places there can possibly be. Children are fragile and through no fault of their own be in situations that are heartbreaking. Barnardo's is the UK's leading children's charity, with over 100 years of experience in placing children with families. They have always provided me with the information that I needed to understand the work they do. And I've learned a lot already.
When people think about children in care they generally think of babies and toddlers. But what many of us forget is that children can be in care up to the age of 18. And what many people also may not know is that there is a real shortage of carers for older children. This is why Barnardo's are currently encouraging people to come forward to foster children - particularly children over the age of 10. It's important that the needs of older children are met. Older children can have different experiences to younger ones - they are less likely to be adopted, more likely to be in care for shorter periods of time and be in and out of care a number of times. For example, nearly half of 10-15-year-olds leave care within eight weeks and two-thirds are looked after for less than six months.
There's a worrying shortage of foster families across the UK at the moment. We desperately need to find nearly 9,000 new foster families over the next 12 months. So I hope that anyone reading this who would like to do something really worthwhile this year will consider fostering.
Barnardo's will tell you exactly what's involved, how to prepare your home and family, and provide tailored support and training for those who go on to become foster carers.
Every child needs a home, someone who understands them and, like every other child in this country, they need someone to look after them. I often leave my Barnardo's visits shaking my head because no young person should have to deal with what these kids deal with. It breaks my heart when I hear their stories. If for even a second when reading this you've thought about it then please get in touch.
The number to call if you think you might make a good foster parent and just want to find out more is 08000 277 280 or you can go to the Barnardo's website which gives you practical information like the fact that you need a spare room to foster a child.
Nicola's single 'Yo-Yo' is out now through A&M Records
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