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Foster carers and supported lodgings carers celebrated at awards ceremony

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Jo Wheeler (centre) has been recognised with the Pioneer award for her amazing contribution to Dorset's children and young people.

Dorset Council recently celebrated the achievements of foster carers and supported lodgings carers at an annual awards ceremony, held in Dorchester. 

Attendees were recognised for the enormous difference they have made to the lives of children and young people by offering them safe and loving homes.  

The award categories ranged from recognising long service, through to the Pioneer Award – a special award recognising outstanding contribution to the health and happiness of Dorset’s children and young people. 

Guests were treated to an evening of entertainment, food, and fun raffle prizes, as well as hearing from engaging keynote speaker, Luke Rodgers, Chief Executive Officer of The Care Leaders. 

This year’s Pioneer Award was given to Jo and Sam Wheeler for their achievements as foster carers and Mockingbird home hub carers.

Not only do Jo and Sam Wheeler look after foster children in their family home, alongside their own birth children, but they also provide support and sleepovers for foster families in their Mockingbird constellation.  

The couple were described as never ‘finding things too much trouble,’ ‘always greeting children with a warm smile’ and ‘making young people feel part of the family.’  

The fostering service shared that “it is an honour to work alongside Jo, Sam and their family.” 

A young person who has been cared for by the couple also wanted to share a few words. He said; "Jo was lovely, she really cared for me. She was so kind, she was the best, and I was so happy there." 

Amongst the awards issued on the night, the award recognising longest service, was presented to Jean Dorey. Jean has fostered for an impressive 51 years, helping numerous children and young people. 

Jean said, “My husband and I were like-minded people when we met, and both worked in local schools. It was in these schools that we realised not all children are able to live with their birth families. This led us to decide to foster.  

“We decided to foster before we had a family and over the years we have continued to do so with the love and support of our four sons. I lost my husband over three years ago and have continued as a single carer. Fostering has been a way of life for us.” 

Councillor Clare Sutton, Dorset Council Cabinet Member for Children's Services, Education and Skills, said:  

“By opening their hearts and homes to Dorset’s children and young people our foster carers and supported lodgings carers change the direction of children’s lives. Their work is truly invaluable, and we cannot thank them enough.    

“If any Dorset residents would like to know more about fostering and the ways in which they can help to provide a loving home for Dorset’s children and young people, please do get in touch. We welcome carers from all walks of life and our fostering service is happy to answer any questions you might have.” 

Foster with Dorset Council 

Demand for foster carers is high, particularly for teenagers, sibling groups, those with special educational needs or disabilities and unaccompanied children. Our focus is on keeping children close to their schools, friends, and birth families and to avoid sending them out of the county.  

We are looking for foster carers from all walks of life and backgrounds, to open their homes to Dorset’s children and young people. 

We offer training, wrap-around support, and a weekly allowance to all our carers. By becoming a foster carer with Dorset Council, you will also become a part of a wider community of carers made up of over 191 households across Dorset who can offer support and a wealth of advice and experience.  

To find out more about fostering with Dorset Council visit the website, download an information pack, or contact the fostering service directly on 01305 225568. 

Categories: Children's Services