A young islander who spent his childhood living in care has paid tribute to the fosterer that “saved” him as a vulnerable seven-year-old and changed his life through 14 years of “trust, love and support”.
The account came from Jake Le Caudey, who is nominating his foster father, Phil Graham, who looked after him alongside wife Pauline, for a Fostering Award.
The awards, which are being held next month with BBC presenter and X-Factor finalist Ashley John-Baptiste as host, have so far received 70 nominations.
Video: Jake speaks about his foster carer.
Held at St. Brelade’s Hotel in 11 May, the awards will celebrate the dedication of foster carers across the island with as many as 80 families in attendance alongside members of the Children, Young People, Education and Skills (CYPES) department.
Children’s Minister Senator Sam Mézec, who will open the awards, commented: “The ceremony is an opportunity to publicly recognise the outstanding dedication and quality of care that foster carers, and those connected to them, offer to our most vulnerable children and young people.
“Foster carers are heroes within our community and it is a pleasure to open this event to honour our foster carers for their selfless commitment to the island’s children.”
The eight categories include New Foster Carer, Short Break/Respite Career, Short-Term Carer, Connected Persons Carer, Permanency carer, Young Persons’ Choice, and Caring for Children with Disabilities.
Pictured: The awards will be opened by Senator Sam Mézec, Children's Minister.
However, the “most prestigious award”, according to CYPES officials, is the ‘Oustanding Contribution to Fostering Award’.
According to CYPES officials, it is reserved for those “who provide an outstanding level of nurturing, understanding and empathy for those children placed in their care.”
“Carers within this category are committed to the empowerment and advocacy of the children they care for and they seek to ensure that children have a voice and are heard within the looked-after system. Carers within this category are also committed to their own ongoing learning and development, seeking to evaluate and enhance their own practice in order to provide better outcomes for children,” the award criteria states.
Nominations can be made by any professional with regular contact with foster carers, as well as birth and foster children.
Pictured: Awards will also touch on the areas of respite care and caring for children with disabilities.
Jake, who describes his foster carers as “heroes”, explained why he hoped his foster father would win the top prize:
“Phil Graham started off as just a stranger who took me in when I was seven years old but fourteen years of trust, love and support made him so much more. When I was a boy I was scared of the world and most people in it but Phil was one of the few people that made me feel safe.
“He helped me learn what is right and what is wrong and I look up to him not only because, from my point of view, he quite literally saved my sister and I, but also for all the other children he and Pauline took in and helped over the years. Their dedication and selflessness to helping others has had a huge positive impact on the lives of so many children who needed a place to stay where they would feel safe and supported when they needed it most. And Pauline and Phil provided this, without fail, for myself, my sister and so many more. Their home was and always will be a sanctuary.
“So much of what I do and so much of what I strive to achieve I do for them, in the hope that I can make them proud by being a good person. I will do my best to follow their example and put myself forward and help those in need when they need it. Both my foster parents are exceptional and I would not be where I am today without them. They are my family and they are my home and though we are not related by blood when someone asks me who my Father is I tell them Phil Graham: the best man I know and the man I will always look up to.”
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