Dr. Kershaw’s Hospice Colour Blast Run!!

Alpha Plus Colour Blast

On Sunday 23rd September Alpha Plus Fostering took part in one of the most colourful events of the year – Dr Kershaw’s Hospice Colour Blast Run!! The team of ten ran (or walked) around Alexandra Park on Sunday, while being blasted with colourful powdered paint.

Dr Kershaw’s Hospice provides specialist palliative care for adults with non-curable, life-limiting illnesses in a peaceful and homely environment. Palliative care is an area of healthcare that focuses on relieving and preventing the suffering of patients. It’s appropriate for patients at all stages of illness and the hospice serves a population of around 220,000 people drawn from Oldham and surrounding districts.

Upon arrival, music was booming with performers and the crowd singing ‘This Is Me’ at the top of their lungs, bouncy castles and a giant slide drew attention, and the crowds of people were enjoying the entertainment from the stage.

With excitement building in the air, the paint packs had been cracked open and thrown around – people wore wigs, fairy wings and the common favourite; tutus, whilst throwing colourful powder over the heads of those they knew and even those they didn’t! It was particularly fun to turn our Registered Manager, Gill into a blue smurf!

Gill - Colourblast

Before the running shoes were put to work, a group warm-up took place by the stage, where everyone danced to the incredibly well-known, social media frenzy song, ‘Baby Shark’. We might not be the best dancers but we certainly gave it our all.

Then, finally, it was time to get sweaty and covered in paint!! The course consisted of two laps around a quarter of the park, with colour stations distributed evenly around. Thankfully the weather turned out for us and the sky was clear, so it was an enjoyable experience throughout! What a brilliant day we had and for a fantastic cause!

Paint Throwing - Colourblast

For more information and to see how you can get involved with this charity, visit www.drkershawshospice.org.uk

What an INCREDIBLE summer we had!!

This summer we have been blessed with fantastic weather which has allowed us to have a lot of fun with our fostering families and most importantly the children.

Our support worker Linda was extremely busy planning events for everyone to join in and our foster carers came along with their foster children and birth children to get to know other fostering families, to support each other and to most importantly have lots of fun!

Alpha Plus Crocky Trail

We kicked off our summer events at Crocky Trail (http://www.crockytrail.co.uk/), outdoor adventure playground in Cheshire.  The fun started the moment we arrived, with all the rides, the trail and the challenges! As you can see from the photos even our fantastic social workers joined in on the huge slides and we all enjoyed the mile-long walk as you run along the famous trail scrambling through trees, climbing over crooked bridges and swinging a stream!

Alpha Plus Crocky Trail 2

The following week we ventured to the beach at St Anne’s Beach, Lytham. The weather was not as sunny as we would have really liked but we had a great day anyway! We had a picnic on the beach, played rounders and even buried a few children in the sand!

Alpha Plus Beach Day

This was a great day for the children to run free in the fresh air, being creative and having fun while the adults sat chatting and some even joined in with building sandcastles.

Alpha Plus Beach Day 2

Our next adventure took us to Scotsmans Flash

Scotsman Flash 1(http://www.inspiringhealthylifestyles.org/wigan/scotmans.htm) in Wigan where we took the children kayaking!  We all got very wet and so much fun was had by all. Our Social workers, Helen and Cat headed up two teams in two boats and they played games in the water against each other. We had a brilliant instructor who helped the children to have lots of fun. We also went swimming in the lake afterwards.  Later in the day we moved on to Haigh Woodland Park (http://www.haighwoodlandpark.co.uk/) for a game of adventure golf and more fun on dry land! A fantastic day was had by all.

Scotsmans Flash 2

Such a fun packed summer and we are sorry it is over but we know the children have made incredible memories and have had the opportunity to have adventures and learn new skills. Our carers got to spend quality time with each other as a team and the staff even let there hair down and joined in. We can’t wait to see what Linda has in store for the next school holidays!




Fostering information event aims to bust myths!

Fostering a child can be one of the most amazing, rewarding and wonderful things you will ever do. However, some people rule themselves out because of common myths about what makes someone eligible to be a foster carer.

Alpha Plus Fostering, an independent fostering agency, currently has a ‘huge need’ to recruit more carers in Lancashire.

To help dispel some of the common misconceptions, they are holding an information event in Bamber Bridge on Saturday, September 15.

There will be a presentation with general information before visitors will have the chance to speak to experienced foster carers, social workers and support workers. Information booths will provide details on specific areas, including fostering siblings and financial support.

Alpha Plus - Our Foster Carers Graham and Anne-Marie

Graham and Anne-Marie Whittle have been fostering with Alpha Plus for six years but initially worried they wouldn’t be accepted.

“We felt that as we had not had children of our own we would not be suitable as foster parents,” said the couple, who are now 61 and 53 years old.

“But due to our other life skills and professional experience Alpha Plus were happy we had the right skills.

“If we had known how rewarding the experience was we would have become foster carers a lot earlier in life.”


So, what are some of the common myths surrounding fostering?

Myth 1 – ‘I’m too old to foster’

You do need to be over 21 to be a carer but there is no upper age limit.

Myth 2 – ‘I can’t afford to foster’

You do not need lots of money to foster. Foster children don’t need financially rich carers. You also receive an allowance if you choose to foster full time.

Myth 3 – ‘Renting rules me out’

Not owning your own home doesn’t mean you can’t foster but your landlord will need to provide the agency with permission. You must also have a spare bedroom.

Myth 4 – ‘Being single means I can’t be a foster carer’

Foster carers don’t need to be in relationships. In fact, agencies welcome applications from single people.

Myth 5 – ‘I don’t have the right qualifications’

No qualifications are required to become a foster carer, just some experience with and understanding of children.

Myth 6 – ‘I’m ruled out because English is my second language’

You must speak fluent English but it doesn’t have to be your first language. You also need to be a British citizen or have permanent leave to stay in the UK.

Children's Rainbow

Lancashire County Council is currently Alpha Plus’ biggest referring local authority. In the first half of 2018 it referred an average of 71 children per month to the agency. That is 71 vulnerable children looking for a safe place in Lancashire where they can live a normal, stable family life.

Alpha Plus Fostering’s information event is being held from 11am to 2pm on Saturday, September 15, at Valley Church Coffee Shop, Fourfields, Bamber Bridge.

To book your place visit alphaplusfostering.co.uk/fostering-information-event

Anyone who is interested in fostering but is unable to make the event can visit alphaplusfostering.co.uk/contact-us  and ask carer engagement officer Nicky to send an information pack or arrange an informal call.

Foster Carers and HMRC

For anybody who is considering becoming a foster carer, and for those that are already fostering, you have been invited to take part in a free webinar hosted by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC). The webinar aims to help you understand tax responsibilities and any National Insurance issues that may arise for a self-employed foster carer.

The free, hour-long webinar will take place at 11am on the 14th February and will include an interactive question and answer session.

The webinar can be accessed from all laptops, iPads, iPhones or tablets, provided you have internet access.

Spaces are limited and reservations are necessary.
To register, please visit HMRC Foster Carers Registration

Saying ‘Goodbye’ To A Foster Child

The time between the beginning and the end of a placement with a foster child can feel like no time at all. Saying goodbye can be one of the biggest challenges faced by foster carers, as well as for the young people in their care.

Having looked after a person for a period of time, you celebrate their successes, are a shoulder to cry on and you watch them grow up. They become a substantial part of your family.

The Importance of Staying Positive

Whatever the reasons for the departure, it’s normal for foster carers to experience a range of emotions when a child leaves their home. It’s important to realise that having stayed with you for a period of time will have benefited their lives for the better.

If they’re an older teenager and they’re now ready to live independently, you will have probably played the part of an important role model. You would have helped teach them valuable life skills such as learning to cook, clean and manage budgets in preparation for them to live their life on their own.

For younger children who move onto more long-term, permanent placements, it’s important to remember that moving on is in their best interests as it’s eventually helping towards placing them with their ‘forever family’.

Dealing with Grief

Losing a foster child is likely to provoke feelings of grief, so give yourself time to recover and also to celebrate the journey you’ve had together. Being open about these feelings with friend, family and other foster carers will help you to heal.

How We Can Help Foster Carers

If you are a foster carer or are considering becoming a foster carer, we can provide a range of training on how to deal with foster children moving on. Contact our team for more information by clicking here.

Fostering February 2018

Don’t rule yourself out…find out!

This month we will be showing our support for Fostering February by starting conversations about fostering both online and offline!

What is Fostering February?

Fostering February is a month dedicated to raising awareness about the facts of becoming a foster carer and aims to dispel some of the myths and misconceptions which surround it.

It gives an invaluable opportunity to people who are considering becoming a foster carer to have their questions and concerns addressed.

Have you ever thought about becoming a foster carer, but immediately ruled it out?

“I’m in a same sex relationship so I won’t be allowed to foster”
“I am disabled so I won’t be allowed to foster”
“I don’t have a driving license so I won’t be allowed to foster”

Do any of these statements sound familiar?

There are lots of different family living situations that can allow for a foster child which are often assumed can’t. Be sure to find out before making assumptions. For example, your sexual orientation won’t affect whether you are allowed to become a foster carer. The most important factor is that the children feel safe and loved and importantly are properly looked after.

How can you get involved in Fostering February 2018?

Whether you are considering becoming a foster carer or just want to help raise awareness, there are plenty of ways for you to get involved with Fostering February 2018.

If you think you could help a child, please register your interest by clicking here and a member of our friendly team will be in touch.

National Storytelling Week 2018

Connect with your foster family through stories

From 27th January – 3rd February 2018, it is National Storytelling Week, held by The Society for Storytelling.

The week is the perfect chance for families to come together and celebrate the power of telling stories, an oral tradition which was the very first way of communicating life experiences and the creative imagination!

Sourced from https://www.sfs.org.uk/national-storytelling-week

What’s so important about storytelling?

Storytelling isn’t just a fun activity for children and young people, it can also have a significant impact on their psychological development. Not only can it improve their language skills and imagination, but their ability to tell their own story, articulate their emotions and make themselves heard.

Stories can provide a child with insight into how the world works and can help them to understand themselves and others. Stories can help give a child greater understanding of human emotion and feelings.

The Importance of Storytelling in a Foster Family Environment

Storytelling can be useful for foster children to help strengthen their relationship with their foster carers, as the process of telling and listening to stories can build attachments and relationships.

The storyteller’s own reactions, both in how they tell and talk about the story, can create an environment that brings well-being and playfulness to the relationship.

Go on, join us in celebrating National Storytelling Week and find time to sit down the with the family to tell some inspiring stories!

Reasons to Kick-Start Your Fostering Journey

If you’ve been thinking about fostering for a while, but have been dwelling on the reasons not to foster – here are some reasons that might encourage you to make your initial enquiry.

  • You’ve got a lot of love to give


Feeling loved and cared for is one of our most basic and fundamental needs, no matter what age we are. However, when children miss out on the feeling of love and care during their early years, it can have a negative impact on their personal development and cause low self-esteem.

Becoming a foster carer is an opportunity for you to provide a vulnerable child with the love and care they deserve.

  • Children need to form lasting attachments


Forming lasting attachments in our early years is important to help develop relationships in later life. Unfortunately, many children within the foster care system have not had the opportunity to form these attachments in their childhood due to their changing environment.

Foster carers play a crucial role in helping children and young people to trust people by forming positive, responsive relationships with them.

  • Too many children don’t grow up in a family setting


Too many children within the foster care system grow up without their basic needs being met in a safe and happy family environment. Fostering is an opportunity to provide a child with the guidance and support that we all need.

  • Your care can have a lasting impact


The impact you could have on a foster child, even in emergency and short-term placements, can stay with them forever. Foster children can learn what being part of a caring family environment is like which can, in turn, have a positive effect on their outlook on family life and can positively influence their future.

  • Fostering is an opportunity to learn new skills


Foster carers receive ongoing support and training, which provides the opportunity to develop new skills and improve existing ones. Your supervising social worker will be there to help you along the way and will provide you with access to various training courses.

If you’re ready to take the first step to becoming a foster carer and changing a child’s life for the better, click here to get in touch with our friendly team today.

Helping Foster Children Through the Holiday Season

Christmas can and should be one of the most wonderful times of the year for children, excited about the arrival of Father Christmas and the magic the festive period brings. But, for many looked after children and young people, Christmas can be a stressful and difficult time of year.

In the build up to Christmas, all around us the vision of the perfect family enjoying the festivities is portrayed – not only through the media, but through conversations with friends about their plans for the holiday, with whom they’ll be going to visit and what activities they have planned with their families. For a looked after child who has been separated from their birth parents this can evoke powerful emotions, both positive and negative, and stir up memories and feelings from their past.

With this in mind, we’ve come up with simple things you can do this Christmas time to help looked after children cope and make this festive season a happy one…

  1. Talk about Christmas
  2. A child in care may not have a good understanding of the Christmas holiday, what it means and what traditions it brings in your home. Take time to read a few books in the run up to Christmas and be ready to hear about their past Christmases. Encourage them to share good memories, then work out ways that traditions can be integrated. Let them know what to expect, even if it’s as simple as decorations, Christmas music, stockings and lots of family meals!

  3. Maintain routine where possible
  4. Christmas can be a hectic time of year, with gifts to be bought being left until the eleventh hour and plans being changed last minute! It’s important to remember the importance of planning and how children thrive on routine. If for any reason routines can’t be maintained, talk the potential changes through with your foster child, discuss any worries they may have and outline the steps you can both take to help them cope.

  5. Involve everyone
  6. Make your home inviting and cosy together! The key is to ensure that the children or young people see the change in setting as positive and a fun activity to do together.

  7. Write a letter to Santa
  8. For younger children, if this is their first Christmas with you, it’s important that Father Christmas knows where to find you!

  9. Anticipate Christmas to be an emotional time
  10. Expect Christmas to be an emotional time for the children you look after, especially for those who may be unable to see their family. All families have their good moments, even if they are few in number and children may want to talk about these and share memories with you. Take time to listen and enjoy time to bond.

  11. Prepare for guests
  12. Introducing children or young people to extended family or family gatherings can be a daunting experience for them. Planning around family gatherings is important – let them know who’s coming and when. Sometimes, it helps to talk about the visitors in advance, so that your foster child feels a familiarity and level of comfort before they have arrived. If the children or young people want to social that’s great, but remember to give them time and space to get comfortable at their own pace if they would rather.

  13. Be alcohol aware
  14. Be wary that children in care may have witnessed the misuse of alcohol and drugs at home, and seeing people drinking at home could cause anxieties to surface, so drink responsibly.

Tips for a Successful Winter’s Day Out

Winter is a wonderful time of year, but often the chill of the outdoors is motivation enough to close the curtains and stay well within the warmth of your home. Whilst this is cosy, it often doesn’t take long until the kids are bursting with energy and looking for things to do. Here are some tips and ideas for a successful Winter’s day out:

Staying warm:

  1. Make sure everyone is all wrapped up with scarves, hats and gloves. Keeping heads and hands warm is crucial and will ensure nobody catches a cold!
  2. Waterproof clothing – expect the expected! Always take big coats or waterproof anoraks with hoods to hand. An umbrella is always a good idea if you’re planning to be outside, and of course wellies! After all, squelching about in the mud and jumping in puddles is what it’s all about.</>
  3. Thick fluffy socks are a must.</>
  4. Don’t forget lip salve and hand cream – cold, windy weather can dry out lips and hands.</>
  5. Portable hand warmers – an inexpensive treat.</>

Things to do:

  1. Take a walk around the park. Though it can be a bit nippy, admiring the changing season, kicking up piles of leaves and stopping for a quick coffee or hot chocolate can make for a lovely time with the children.</>
  2. Trip to the local cinema. You can find great deals online to keep the kids and your wallet happy!</>
  3. Ice skating – search online for a Winter Wonderland near you.</>
  4. Visit somewhere you haven’t been before, or haven’t visited in ages. Beaches can be perfect this time of year, especially with dogs.</>
  5. Explore the Christmas markets! Christmas comes around quickly – now’s the time to start your Christmas Shopping and pick up little gifts for the family.</>