Pictured: Moreya (centre) with her foster carers Steve and Angela.
MOREYA Foster is a high-achieving 18-year-old with the world at her feet.
But she says the picture of the person she might have been – had she not spent most of her life in foster care – paints a very different story.
Moreya, from Gee Cross, Hyde, is highlighting how foster care has changed her life for the better as part You Can Foster’s Inspiring Stories campaign to help recruit more foster carers.
As part of the north west campaign, supported by Tameside Council, children and young people in care are being encouraged to enter a competition – to be judged by Manchester poet Tony Walsh also know as 'Longfella' - to tell their own stories of life in a foster family.
For Moreya, the experience could not have been more positive.
She said: “Being with a loving and stable foster family has made the world of difference to me. I think of all the opportunities and support I’ve had that just wouldn’t have happened if I hadn’t gone into care.
“I sometimes pass girls in the street who look as if they are having a hard time and I think that could so easily have been me. I feel so fortunate that I’ve had such brilliant foster carers.”
Moreya first went into care on a temporary basis at the age of four, when her mother was admitted into hospital. She was then in and out of care intermittently until the age of seven, when she moved in with foster carers Angela and Steve Hesford, who she still lives with under the Staying Put scheme for young people in full time eduction.
She said: “I remember it didn’t take long for me to settle in here, it just felt like home straight away and I felt safe and like I’m part of a normal family – with all the normal family ups and downs.”
Moreya has lived a full childhood with Angela and Steve, going on holidays, attending swimming and dance lessons – achieving Grade 8 in ballet – and doing well in her GCSEs. She is now studying A levels at college and hopes to go to university.
She said: “I could not have done all of this without their support and encouragement. But Angela and Steve don’t just look after me - we have a very close bond and friendship. If one day I have my own children, I want Angela and Steve to be their grandparents and I know they will love them just as they were their own grandchildren.
“I may not have had the best of starts but I’ve had a very good childhood and it’s thanks to my foster carers.”
Angela, 58, and Steve, 61, became foster carers nearly 20 years ago just after their eldest son left home. They have since fostered 19 children, mostly in long term placements like Moreya’s but they have also provided some short-term and respite care.
As well as Moreya, they also currently look after a 13-year-old girl – who has lived with them for nine years under a Special Guardianship Order – and they foster a seven-year-old girl who has been with them for three weeks and a 6-month-old baby boy, who has been with them since he was six weeks old.
Angela said: “It’s a full and busy life but I don’t think we would want it any other way. Whenever a child moves on we think we are going to look forward to a rest but then that feeling comes over us that we want to help someone else.
“We first got into fostering because I already knew someone who was a foster carer and I just felt that it was something I could do well. There’s something inside me that wants to make a positive difference for these children.
“You do get attached – you can’t help but fall for them – and it can be hard when they move on but, when you know they are going to the right place, it’s very rewarding to know you have been part of that positive journey.
“We are still in touch with the vast majority of the children we have cared for and it’s lovely to see them happy and living good lives.
“Not every day in fostering is easy but that’s the same in any family and as with any family the good stuff far outweighs it all.
“As for Moreya, we are so very proud of her and everything she is achieving and we feel very privileged to be part of her life.”
Tameside Council foster carers receive excellent training and support as well as an attractive allowance. The fostering team want to hear from people of all ages and backgrounds who may be able to provide a stable and caring home. To find out more call 0161 368 8865 or see www.tameside.gov.uk/fostering
To find out more about the Inspiring Stories competition see http://youcanfoster.org/competition