A CARING Kilwinning couple are backing a national campaign to encourage people to foster children.

Derek and Angela Anderson are just two of the carers helping the 150 North Ayrshire children currently in foster care and there is a need for more people to join the system.

There is currently a shortage of foster carers in the area and nationwide, with recent figures suggesting another 10,000 carers are needed throughout the UK.

The Andersons are long-term carers and are currently looking after two older children, with them fostering 16 children in total.

The couple have looked after all types of children, from a shy baby to a troubled teenager, and Angela knows how tough but rewarding it can be.

She said: “People always ask why we got involved? Our situation was maybe different from others.

“Derek deals with child protection matters on a daily basis through his job as a police officer.

“He has seen a lot of problems encountered by children with difficult upbringings and really wanted to help.

“He recognised the good job foster carers did and it made us think that we could both make a difference too.

“We also wanted to give something back to the community and helping children gave us a fantastic opportunity to do that.

“We’d also just moved into the area and our children had grown up and moved away so it was good timing for us.” The couple started looking after younger children in the shorter-term before becoming longer-term carers.

And whether it’s a seven-week stay or a seven-year stay, their philosophy always remains the same according to Derek.

He said: “It’s amazing to think that we’ve had a positive influence on the young people that we have cared for, supporting them through a difficult stage in their life.

“We had a young baby that was timid because of the upbringing she’d had but she learned how to smile again.

“We’ve had children who’ve lost parents and you need to help them with the grieving process and that’s difficult. But you find a way through it and help them move on.

“Some young people may have low self esteem and gaps in their education but you are there to encourage them and help their overall development.

“We recently had a boy who left after a number of years to live on his own.

“It’s hard to let go but seeing them develop as individuals is incredibly rewarding.

“We stay in touch with them when they move on and they will always remain a part of our lives.” Councillor Anthea Dickson, Cabinet Member for Health and Social Care, praised the contribution of the Andersons and hopes other people are inspired to follow suit.

She said: “Angela and Derek have made a real difference to the lives of these vulnerable children.

“They and all our other fantastic foster carers deserve huge credit for the dedication they show to the children in their care.

“It takes special people to become foster carers and I’d urge anyone who thinks they have those specials skills to get in touch and follow in Angela and Derek’s footsteps.” A full package of support is provided for foster carers including, financial, training, support groups, a supervising social worker and membership of the Fostering Network.

You can contact the Fostering team on 01294 311505 or go to the foster caring section on our website www.north-ayrshire.gov.uk.