Those looking for a way to make a difference to a child's life are invited to find out more about becoming a foster carer or adoptive parent at Portsmouth City Council's drop-in event at Portsmouth Football Club, on Saturday 15 September, 10am to 1pm, in the Victory room via the Anson Road entrance.

The council's fostering and adoption services will be on hand to chat to anyone who thinks they could provide a better future for a child or young person in care. There is no need to book, just drop by for a chat, and to meet families who are currently fostering young people, or who have already adopted children. 

The council urgently need to recruit more foster carers to provide a caring home, guidance and direction to children of all ages, and especially teenagers, to be just the role model, mentor and inspiration they need. There are numerous fostering opportunities available, from a stay at home full-time foster carer for a young child, to providing respite care or fostering a young person whilst continuing to work full or part-time. 

A favoured option by many who prefer to combine fostering whilst continuing to work, is to simply provide a room and around 10 hours a week of out of office hours support to one of Portsmouth's vulnerable 16-24 year olds, through the "Lodgings Plus" scheme.  Support could include helping them with things like learning to cook, writing a CV or applying for jobs, college or university.

Foster carers come from all walks of life, and receive around £165-£550 a week per child in their care, some of which goes towards food, clothes, toys and savings etc for the child. All carers are given excellent support, training, competitive allowances and fees for each fostering option. Lodgings Plus providers, when providing daily meals, receive over £750 per month per young person in their care.

Another option is providing respite foster care for around one weekend a month to a vulnerable child already in care, to enable current carers for children with complex needs to make more time for themselves and their families.

If you have a desire to help a vulnerable child, a spare bedroom available, patience, availability at least one weekend each month, a commitment to training, and experience of working with children and young people, or people with complex needs, whether personal, professional or voluntary, you could become a respite foster carer. Fees and allowances can vary slightly with age of child, but respite carers would receive around £216.25 for providing care from a Friday afternoon to Sunday evening, or approximately £504.58 for 7 continual nights during the school holidays.

For anyone considering adopting a child, the Portsmouth Adoption Service, along with families who have already adopted children, will also be at the event to share their experiences and answer your questions. The council urgently needs adopters for children of all ages, especially those aged 3+ and sibling groups.

If you have a spare room, you can foster or adopt regardless of your ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, religion, marital status, whether single or part of a couple, or whether you own or rent your own home.

Cllr Rob Wood, the council's Cabinet Member for Children and Families, said: "There can be many reasons why someone finds themselves with a spare room, and with the university term approaching at this time of year, fostering or adoption could be the ideal way to fill the empty nest. We are particularly keen to speak to anyone at this event with any childcare experience, or experience of working with young people or people with disabilities, whether personal, professional or voluntary. If you don't have this experience, we can help you achieve this. Recruiting more foster carers and adoptive families is a council priority, and we look forward to seeing you at the event."

For more information on fostering in general, please contact the Fostering Recruitment Team on 023 9283 4071 and chat to one of the team, visit www.foster.portsmouth.gov.uk or email fostering@portsmouthcc.gov.uk. For more information on adoption in general, please contact the Portsmouth Adoption Service on 023 9287 5294, visitwww.adoption.portsmouth.gov.uk, or email adoptioncentre@portsmouthcc.gov.uk.