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Award-winning foster family hubs project helps Hackney children in care

PUBLISHED: 10:28 09 November 2020 | UPDATED: 11:35 11 November 2020

Hackney’s fostering service is part of the Mockingbird programme, run by charity The Fostering Network, which has just won the Big Impact Award at this year’s Third Sector Awards. Picture: Third Sector Awards

Hackney’s fostering service is part of the Mockingbird programme, run by charity The Fostering Network, which has just won the Big Impact Award at this year’s Third Sector Awards. Picture: Third Sector Awards

Third Sector Awards

An “innovative” project connecting foster families in Hackney has been recognised for its positive impact on the lives of fostered children and young people.

1 in 5 placements would have broken fown if they had not been supported by the Mockingbird programme. Picture: The Fostering Network1 in 5 placements would have broken fown if they had not been supported by the Mockingbird programme. Picture: The Fostering Network

The Fostering Network’s Mockingbird programme, which is part of Hackney Council’s fostering service, has won the Big Impact Award at Third Sector’s Third Sector Awards 2020.

Mockingbird uses a new model for foster care which involves fostering households forming a hub, a structure similar to that of an extended family.

Children are then encouraged to view other carers and children in the hub as aunts, uncles, grandparents and cousins, meeting regularly in each other’s homes and spending times of celebration together.

Janet Webb, a Mockingbird foster carer, said: “The Mockingbird project has helped me immensely; in my first year of fostering I have been supported by experienced foster carers who have been on the end of the phone when I have needed them.

12 per cent of carers would have resigned if they hadn't been supported by the MOckingbird programme. Picture: The Fostering Network12 per cent of carers would have resigned if they hadn't been supported by the MOckingbird programme. Picture: The Fostering Network

“We all get on really well, and the children I care for have benefitted from the overnight support of the hub home carer.”

READ MORE: How fostering can help to change futures

Judges of the awards, which recognise the achievements of charities, voluntary organisations and social enterprises, called the Mockingbird initiative a “fantastic and innovative project, bringing real change and with demonstrable impact”.

They added: “This is a sea change in the way foster care is delivered.”

The pioneering fostering project has save millions across teh country. Picture: The Fostering NetworkThe pioneering fostering project has save millions across teh country. Picture: The Fostering Network

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The Mockingbird programme was developed by The Mockingbird Society in America in 2004.

It is run by the charity The Fostering Network and part-funded by the Department for Education.

READ MORE: Foster families continue to provide care in lockdown

Shahida Ibrahiym, a social worker in the Mockingbird programme, said: “It has been wonderful to see and contribute towards the growth of the first Mockingbird constellation in Hackney.

“Over the past year, I have watched the carers and their children in placement grow as a family. Despite the challenges of the pandemic this year, the carers did not give up, they worked together to ensure that everyone in the constellation felt supported. The children and young people in the constellation have formed some beautiful friendships, and the hub home really is a warm, nurturing and safe place for all those present.”

Deputy mayor of Hackney and cabinet member for education, young people and children’s social care, Cllr Anntoinette Bramble, said: “Supporting children and foster carers is one of the most important things we do as a council. Our social work teams work tirelessly and I’m delighted that their efforts have been recognised in this way.

“This extended family model provides a high level of stability to children and young people and strengthens relationships and resilience, including that of birth families and social workers.

“I’m looking forward to seeing the work continue to develop and go from strength to strength.”

To learn more about fostering, click here

Find out more about the Mockingbird project here

Third Sector is run by Haymarket Media Group, with the awards sponsored by Markel, Ansvar, and Good.


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