CHILDREN in the care system were celebrated during a glitzy night at County Hall last month as foster carers, social workers, mps and the children themselves attended the Star Awards.

Linda and her husband David Gainey have been foster carers for 18 years.

They went to the awards and watched on as children picked up a host of awards despite their tough start in life.

Mrs Gainey was a horticulturalist but is now retired. Over the last 18 years she has fostered over 40 children, ranging from an emergency overnight stay to becoming the full time carer of a child for seven years.

They can have up to three children with them at any one time and have cared for babies from as young as five days old to teenagers.

She called it a privilege to be involved in the lives of so many young people by giving them a safe place to live and attended the Star Awards.

She said: “There was the a Wow category that was around a child perhaps who had never smiled who had found their smiles or had found their voice which is huge when you come into care and do not have the confidence to speak and smile that’s a huge thing for a child to put trust to be able to do that.

Mrs became involved in foster after her three children had grown up and she was involved in a charity that took children who wouldn’t usually get to go away, on holidays.

Speaking from her home near Lacock she said: “I knew I wanted to do a little bit more around looking after children who had not had the experiences my own children had had

“When you hear some of the stories of the beginning in life these children have it changes your perspective.

“Some of the best parts are being involved in the adoption process and seeing them move on to forever families and that process and being part of that is quite amazing.”

“There is an expression you just need a spare room to foster but I don’t like that, you have to think about you wider family and the impact on them, the reaction of friends and your own life because it changes everything.”

She believes that there is a great focus on mental health now, but more must be done to understand the extra difficulties children who have been in care experience.

She would like to see more work done to make people understand about attachment disorder in some young people.

“Through a lot of the challenges you normally get some positives and you learn so much from challenging behaviours. If you look behind rather than actually dealing with what you see you can usually understand what is causing the behaviour.

“Nothing prepares you for the feeling of your first child. For us it was a young person who was really struggling with their family.

“They needed a safe place and I know we gave that to them.”

The Star Awards was organised by Wiltshire Council and Laura Mayes, Wiltshire Council outgoing cabinet member for children’s services, and had asked for the event to be held to put a spotlight on the drive and determination of children and young people.

Speaking at the event she said: “One of my most important roles is to make sure we support you as you take on all the challenges of growing up in today’s world.

“Just as important is celebrating your unique stories and achievements as you make your mark in the world and inspire your peers.”

Myth busting around Fostering

There are many misconceptions around who can or cannot become a foster carer.

Fosterers must be at least 21 or over to foster but it doesn't matter whether you are male or female

They can be heterosexual, gay, lesbian or transgender.

Fosterers can be married, single or living with a partners and it does not matter fi you are able bodied or living with a disability.

Whether the home is owned or rented and whether someone works, is retired or is unemployed also does not matter.

There are around 400 children in the care system in Wiltshire with three quarters currently in a foster care home.

An allowance is given depending on the age of the child and each foster home can look after between one and three children at any one time, unless for larger family groups.

One role some people do not expect a foster carer to do is to help the child keep in touch with their birth family.

Things like phone calls and visits might be organised, or eventually an adoptive family might become involved in the child's life.

To find out more about fostering visit: or call the Wiltshire Council fostering team on 01225 716510.