Oldham’s foster family celebrates 51 years of fostering

Left to right Catherine, Karl Catherine’s husband who she fosters with, Linda and Christine.

Single mum and twin daughters celebrate 51 years of fostering, and caring for over 300 children.

Despite starting to lose her eyesight 11 years ago, Linda who has been fostering through Oldham Council for 33 years, leads the way. Alongside her twin daughters Christine (13 years fostering) and Catherine (five years), they’ve collectively fostered for over five decades. We want to share Linda’s incredible story.

Linda started as a single parent with three children of her own. Her journey has grown to include her twin daughters Christine and Catherine joining the fostering adventure.

Over the years, Linda has provided a safe and loving home for many children in foster care, alongside raising her own three children. She doesn’t just offer short-term help; she often cares for children until they grow up, and she’s even adopted one child. “It’s tough to say goodbye, but it’s part of the job,” she says. “Knowing we’ve made a positive impact on a child’s life makes it all worth it.”

When asked about her favourite moments, Linda can’t pick just one. “Each child brings something special,” she says. “Watching them grow and do well under our care is the best part.”

Linda adds, “Despite the challenges, fostering brings so much happiness. Each child is unique, and they all bring something precious into our lives.

“I’ll always remember that time a little boy arrived with a huge bag nearly twice the size of him that turned out to be nearly empty, except for a small teddy bear that he gave to me.

“When he left, we filled that big bag full of clothes and toys as he deserved it. Seeing him blossom under our care was truly heartwarming It’s moments like these that make it all worthwhile.

 “Fostering has become a family affair for us,” she says proudly. “We support each other through the highs and lows, creating a supportive and loving home for both the children and us.

“I’ve been thinking about semi-retiring, but it’s not quite working out as I hoped,” Linda laughs. “Honestly, I’m not sure if I could ever fully step away when there are children who need me.

“I’ve currently been looking after a baby since they were born, and helping other children who need a break for a few weeks through respite,” she explains. “Fostering has become such a big part of my life that I can’t imagine saying goodbye to it fully.”

Linda’s journey began with a simple call to Oldham Council, and since then, she’s made a big difference in the lives of many children in need.

She decided to become a foster carer because of her caring nature. “I was always the one looking after my friends’ children while they were at work,” she says. “When I saw an ad in the local paper for foster carers in Oldham, I felt I had to do something.”

Despite some initial doubts as a single parent of three, Linda took the chance and got in touch with Oldham Council. “I realised that fostering was something I’d rather do than keep looking after my friends’ children,” she says. “Once I made that call, I knew there was no going back.”

Linda’s strong commitment to fostering reflects the values of Oldham Council’s fostering programme. “We’re really thankful for Linda and her family’s dedication and care,” says Nick Whitbread, Assistant Director of Corporate Parenting for Oldham Council. “Their selfless actions have made a real difference in the lives of vulnerable children in our community.”

For those considering fostering, Linda offers simple advice: “If you have room in your home and room in your heart, pick up the phone and enquire. It’s the best decision I ever made.”

Linda, Catherine, and Christine also talked about this story on BBC Radio Manchester. You can listen to it here from 1:23:51 to 1:31:00.

For more information, call 0161 770 6600 or visit www.oldham.gov.uk/fostering.

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