Graham Clifford was last Monday presented with The Fostering Network in Wales’ inaugural President’s Award in recognition of his outstanding contribution to foster care.
Graham, along with his partner Rose, have been foster carers with Bridgend Council for over two decades, during which time they have cared for eleven children and young people of all ages, from a variety of backgrounds and with a range of needs. They are currently looking after two siblings who have lived with them since 2008 and another child who came to stay with them this September.
Graham has been heavily involved in the work of The Fostering Network for many years, most recently becoming a foster carer ambassador for the charity. This has allowed him to represent the voice of foster carers from across Wales in a range of consultations and working groups, for the National Fostering Framework, Welsh Government and Cardiff University. Graham also contributed to a Men Who Care book, challenging perceptions about male foster carers, and uses his role as a school governor to ensure issues facing looked after children are at the forefront of education.
Colin Turner, director of The Fostering Network in Wales, said: ‘Graham is an exemplary foster carer who is totally committed and dedicated to the children in his care. He consistently goes out of his way to speak up on behalf of children and young people and he and Rose have made a huge difference in the lives of the children that they have fostered.
‘However, Graham is also passionate about helping to see fostering be the very best it can be for all involved. He has supported our work at The Fostering Network for over 10 years, contributing to a number of our projects, campaigns and events. He regularly advocates on behalf of his fellow foster carers in Wales and is an integral part of the fostering community.’
Jo Lloyd-Jones, fostering team manager from Bridgend County Borough Council, said: ‘Graham and Rose are a wonderful couple. They provide a secure and nurturing home environment for their young people and ensure that all of their care needs are met. They support the young people as individuals, encourage them to pursue their individual interests and enable them to reach their full academic potential. The couple are strong and positive advocates and have actively fought for equality of outcome for their fostered children.’
Darren Harman-Page, Vice-President of The Fostering Network, said: ‘Foster carers like Graham do something extraordinary on behalf of our society, changing the futures of young people. There is an ongoing need for more foster families across Wales and Graham is an inspiration to others who might be thinking about fostering. But what makes Graham exceptional is the extent to which he gets involved in the bigger picture of fostering, striving to bring improvements across the board so that everyone has a better experience of foster care.’
At least 550 new foster families are needed in Wales during 2019 to provide stable, secure and caring homes for fostered children, according to figures calculated by The Fostering Network.