It's that time of year again when everything around us is full of Christmas and festive cheer, with images of happy families everywhere. It is magical and we thrive off it on the most part. Of course the reality is that doing the work that we do in fostering we know these images are not representative of all families nor the 700,000 children classed as vulnerable in England. We also know all too well that over the holiday period some of these children will leave their homes and be placed in foster care.

Foster care, at Christmas more than ever, is an essential service, whether for children already in care or for those entering care. Regardless of what has happened to them in life, children will miss parents, siblings and other loved ones a little more over the holidays because they too are continually exposed too the same images of joy and giving that we are.

Foster carers and their families therefore do something incredible. They make children feel special and that they belong by including them in whatever festivities they are themselves involved in. Across our fostering agency Christmas spans all religions and cultures, because ultimately it is a time to celebrate being part of a family, an foster families really are special.

Whether children are with us for a short time or staying until they're adults, what they will ultimately remember is not how many gifts they received but how their foster families made them feel. Feeling safe, feeling like they are part of the family and most importantly feeling that they matter.

Whatever you are doing to celebrate Christmas this year please remember those less fortunate, especially children in care.

If you think you could be a foster carer by next Christmas please text ICAN to 66777

Please also consider supporting the Book Trust charity. For every £10 donated a child in care will receive a gift of a book this Christmas.

Wishing you and your families a peaceful Christmas and a happy New Year.

Satwinder (2) a

Satwinder Sandhu

Operations Director Homefinding and Fostering