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Conwy foster carer shares family recipe in new celeb-backed cookbook

THIS FOSTER Care Fortnight™, Foster Wales Conwy is calling on people in the area to consider becoming foster carers to support local young people in need.

Recent research by Foster Wales – the national network of local authority fostering services – found people are often put off applying to become a carer because they don’t believe they have the ‘right’ skills and experience.

In their new cookbook – Bring something to the table – Foster Wales highlight the simple things, a carer can offer – like the security of a regular meal, family time around the table, and creating new food favourites.

Bring something to the table has over 20 recipes, including recipes from the foster care community, and celebrity chefs.

MasterChef Winner, Wynne Evans; Young MasterChef Judge, Poppy O’Toole; and cook/author Colleen Ramsey have contributed recipes. Also featured are Olympic athlete and foster care campaigner, Fatima Whitbread, who was herself in care.

Former Great British Bake-Off contestant Jon Jenkins and comedian Kiri Pritchard Mclean also added recipes – drawing on their personal experiences as foster carers.

Most importantly, Ian from Foster Wales Conwy has shared his Grandma’s corned beef hash recipe in the cookbook. Ian, who has been a foster carer with his wife Jackie for 8 years, said that this special recipe reminded him of his childhood.

“The smell of grandma’s corned beef hash on the stove every time we visited her home reminds me of all the hugs and kisses we used to get on arrival,” Ian reminisced.

“My homemade corned beef hash is made to my grandma’s recipe, in the way she used to serve it, soft and runny and eaten with a spoon! It has always been a big hit in our household!”

Ian and Jackie do short-term fostering, which can be anything from a few days, weeks, months or up to two years. Ian added: “We chose to do short-term fostering as we wanted to support local children in Conwy with a loving and safe home environment until they move on to somewhere more permanent.”

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“We hope that when they move on they will take with them some special memories of their time with us, however long that may have been, and childhood food memories can be very nostalgic and comforting.”

Care-experienced young people share authentic experiences

To launch the book, Colleen Ramsey, author of ‘Bywyd a Bwyd, Life Through Food’, will host a cookery workshop for young care-experienced people to learn a new recipe and vital cooking skills to take into their future independent lives.

Young care experienced people have also been heavily involved in the development of the cookbook.

Sophia Warner, a Welsh illustrator, campaigner, and care-experienced young person, illustrated and wrote the foreword for the cookbook:

“When I was younger, I vividly recall asking my foster mum about the origins of the food she presented, insisting it hailed from Brecon, my beloved childhood stomping ground. I penned ‘Brecon Bolognese’ for the cookbook, based on my foster mum’s recipe.

“This recipe holds a special place in my heart because it was the first meal I had when I moved into my foster home. I mentioned that my birth mum used to make it and my foster mum lovingly prepared it for me. As I sat around the table with my new foster family, I felt a sense of belonging and warmth, making me feel truly welcome.”

More foster families are needed across Wales

Every May, Foster Care Fortnight™ – The Fostering Network’s annual campaign to raise the profile of fostering and show how foster care transforms lives – hope to raise awareness of the need for more foster carers.

In Wales, there are more than 7,000 children in care, but only 3,800 foster families.

Foster Wales has set out with the bold aim of recruiting over 800 new foster families by 2026, to provide welcoming homes for local children and young people.

Cllr Liz Roberts, Conwy’s Cabinet Member for Children, Families and Safeguarding, said: “Our foster carers do a remarkable job for children and young people to make sure they feel safe and secure. This book shows that a shared experience through food can be powerful. It might be a simple meal, but what it represents is part of the amazing support that our foster carers offer to help make a lasting impact.

“I’d encourage anyone who wants to make a difference to a child’s life to bring their skills and experience to the table and get in contact with the Foster Wales Conwy team.

“When you foster with Foster Wales Conwy, you will have access to dedicated local knowledge and support, a brilliant learning and development package and more importantly, you can help children stay in their own local community, close to friends, their school and everything they hold close.”

The cookbook will be distributed to foster carers across Wales and a digital version can be downloaded here.

Follow @fosterwalesconwy during foster care fortnight to see what our foster carers in Conwy bring to the table!

To find out more about becoming a foster carer in Conwy visit here.