They may already have three children of their own but Ashleigh and Chris Hughes have plenty of room in their hearts and home for more.
The couple, from Tameside, foster babies and young children in shorter term placements either while their families undergo support or while adoption proceedings take place. They are supporting the Council’s ongoing Best Job in the World campaign to recruit more foster carers to support local children.
Ashleigh said they enjoy giving the children a safe, happy and stable start – helping them to settle in routines and celebrate the first milestones from sleeping through to first steps and all the fun in between.
She said: “The best thing is seeing them start to smile – you know they are settled, happy and blossoming. It is such a pleasure to share and capture those milestones and moments of things they have never done before – whether it is sitting up, first taste of an ice cream or first time at the seaside. We take lots of photos so they will always be able to look back on those special moments and happy memories.”
Ashleigh, 33, and Chris, 35, and had initially planned to become foster carers when their own children– Leah, 12, Evan, 10 and Jacob, 8 – were older. But when they moved to a larger house they decided that, as they had the room, there was no point in delaying any further.
Ashleigh said: “I have always wanted to foster – we have family members who foster and have seen the positive difference it makes to children’s lives and all the children they have fostered over the years feel like part of our extended family. When we moved and gained a spare room we thought ‘why wait when we could help a child now’. We discussed it with our children and they responded really well to the idea so we make our first enquiries with the Council.
“You go through an approval process and training. It’s a big learning curve when you actually start but we haven’t looked back.
“We all love doing things as a family, like going to the park and on our caravan holidays and the children we foster just add to the excitement and joy. Our own children are fantastic with the babies and love to play with them.
“We all feel sad when it is time for them to move on but we are so happy and proud we have helped them on their positive journey to a better outcome. It is so rewarding to realise you are making a big difference to a little life and helping to keep them safe.”
Anyone interested in fostering can come along to Tameside Council’s fostering team’s informal drop ins at Tameside Central Library from 9am – 1pm on Wednesday August 15 or Denton Library on Monday 10 September 1-5pm or call 0161 368 8865 for a chat. Tameside Council foster carers receive full training, support and an allowance.
There are lots of different flexible opportunities for foster carers - from long-term placements to emergency and respite care – which can fit around other work and commitments. www.tameside.gov.uk/fostering