Stockport launches third pioneering fostering family constellation

Stockport Council’s children and young people in foster care are benefitting hugely from the Mockingbird Programme.

Stockport launches third pioneering fostering family constellation

It's an award-winning and cost effective sustainable foster care model, which sees a constellation of fostering households set up in a similar structure to that of an extended family, structured around the support and relationships that provides.

Stockport introduced the Mockingbird programme, delivered by leading fostering charity The Fostering Network, in 2015 and has recently launched a third constellation in 2021.

The three constellations in Stockport, led by hub home foster carers, offer vital peer support and guidance, alongside social activities and sleepovers to strengthen relationships and stability to local foster families.

The Mockingbird programme is both beneficial to children and young people as well as foster carers who are supported to be able to provide the best possible care to their young people. Thanks to the community support our three Mockingbird hubs provide, 17 families and 30 children and young people have been provided with secure and stable families, and the breakdown of relationships has been avoided, meaning more of Stockport’s children can grow up with the stability they deserve.

"Here in Stockport the Mockingbird programme is a game changer, both for our children and our foster carers and we’re so proud of everything our three constellations have achieved," says Alison Mullane, Stockport’s Mockingbird Liaison Officer.

“Our hub carers and satellite carers within our constellations have continued throughout Covid 19 and during the lock down restrictions to promote the Mockingbird project in Stockport and by doing so have maintained some very difficult and complex placements.

They have ensured a continued commitment to the children in their care and the Mockingbird project. I am very proud to be involved in launching our third Mockingbird constellation”

Linda and Mark Thomas, hub carers for the newly launched constellation said:

“We are delighted to be part of the Mockingbird model and supporting our Stockport families. We are looking forward to start to build new friendships and relationships and sharing our home, experience and skills with our satellite families…we are extremely excited about the next chapter of our fostering journey.”

Louise, our Stockport hub carer, says, ”I am so excited to be a hub carer delivering Mockingbird to families in Stockport. I personally had experience of being part of a Mockingbird constellation family which is what encouraged me to take up the role in 2017.

"In our 5th year we have built a strong family unit, carers and children see mockingbird as they would visiting a good family friend for advice, help or just a brew and friendly face."

Louise added: ”I love everything about Stockport’s Mockingbird model; the way I was supported, the family model and the difference it makes to not just children and young people in care, but foster carers too…I’m excited to be able to support other families to be excellent foster carers in the same way that I have been supported”.

One Mockingbird foster carer part of the hub constellation said, “Being part of this has changed the way I feel, it has re-ignited my passion for fostering and in turn enabled me to keep looking after more children, being part of a Mockingbird family is inspirational”

Councillor Colin Foster, Cabinet Member for Children, Family Services & Education, said:

“We are proud that Stockport is part of such an innovative fostering programme, a sustainable new way of delivering foster care here in Stockport. We would like to welcome our new hub carers and to congratulate everyone involved in the programme. The Mockingbird project is proving extremely successful in Stockport and it is clear to see the significant benefits it is bringing to our foster carers and ultimately the children and young people they care for. It is important that all foster placements are right for both the carers and the children and Mockingbird offers the support and stability that an extended family group can bring. Our Mockingbird foster carers feel supported and we are seeing an increase in the retention of foster carers because of it.

"If you are interested in becoming a foster carer with us, please get in touch. We welcome people from all backgrounds, of all different ages, genders, ethnicities, no matter your relationship status or sexual orientation, so if you think you can make a difference to children’s lives please get in touch.”