Make a difference to the lives of local teenagers
Monday 10 May: Hillingdon Council has launched a new fostering campaign during national Foster Care Fortnight (10 to 23 May) to inspire local people to look after teenagers in need of guidance and stability.
The COVID-19 pandemic has contributed to a rise in mental health issues and there are currently 337 children and young people in the council's care, with two thirds of those over the age of 13. Foster homes for teenagers in Hillingdon are needed now more than ever.
A new video featuring local foster carer Daren and Gildo, the young person he fostered, gives an insight into what it's like to foster a teenager and how rewarding the role can be.
Daren Carrington, a successful music producer from Uxbridge, has been fostering young people for nine years. He said: "I've always felt that I had the right skills to mentor young people and guide them in the right direction, and my music helps me connect with them on another level.
"My eldest, Gildo, arrived in the UK aged 15 having never met his birth parents and was forced to live on the streets, He was exposed to criminal behaviour and could have gone down a very damaging road, but I helped guide him along the right path and he learnt quickly. Now he's turned his life around and is what I can only describe as the perfect son.
"If you're thinking about fostering, do it from the heart and you can't go wrong. You can really change a young person's life and help them to achieve. For me, physically seeing a change in someone's life beats selling records any day."
Gildo was placed in Daren's care seven years ago and despite not speaking English when he arrived, he is now in his second year at university studying Criminology and Psychology and is a semi-professional footballer for Egham Town.
He said: "I had no-one when I moved to the UK, but Daren gave me a family. I can talk to him about anything. Back then he was like a dad to me - but now that I'm older he's more like my best friend."
The council is appealing to caring people in the community who want to make a difference to the lives of teenagers, some who may have had a challenging start in life.
Cllr Jane Palmer, Hillingdon Council's Cabinet Member for Health and Social Care, said: "Our dedicated foster carers devote their time, love and support to make the most incredible difference to the lives of young people in need. We're looking for more kind-hearted people like Daren to help guide a teenager along the right path and offer safety and stability. If you think you could make a difference to a young person's life, please contact our fostering team today."