Hilary Loades-Bannon (Service Lead – Fostering, Special Guardianship & Adoption)

It was good to see a number of you at the BFfC foster carers’ awards evening on Tuesday 8 June. Attending it made me realise that neither Seamus nor I have formally introduced ourselves to most of you as yet or made you aware of our new roles with BFfC’s IFA. Apologies for this.

So a few words about myself: I started my social work career in Reading over 30 years ago – I realised at the awards evening that we now have at least one set of BFfC foster carers whose parents were foster carers for Reading Children’s Services when I was here the last time around! I have spent almost all of my social work career specialising in fostering and adoption and more recently special guardianship, including spending 20+ years managing Wokingham’s Family Placement services and three years managing Adopt Berkshire, a combined adoption service for the four smaller Berkshire unitary authorities. I first came back to Reading in December 2017, exactly a year before Brighter Futures for Children was launched, and prior to taking on responsibility for our IFA I was already managing the authority’s adoption and permanence services, which I am pleased to say still come under my remit.

Having started my social work career working in a residential children’s home catering for children who were as young as 6 years of age, I feel passionately about children looked after having the opportunity to experience stable and positive foster placements whilst decisions are made about their longer term care plans; I am also a very strong advocate for appropriate permanency planning being put in place for children looked after from as early a stage as possible, in order to ensure that those for whom a return to parental care is not appropriate, achieve permanence at the youngest possible age, whether through permanent fostering, adoption or placement within their wider birth families under an appropriate arrangement.

Having worked with Steffi and other members of our fostering service as colleagues over the last three years I am now looking forward to working more closely them, with Seamus (our Deputy Service Manager for Fostering, Special Guardianship & Adoption) and with yourselves as our BFfC foster carers, in order to further develop our ‘in-house’ fostering services.

Very best wishes,

Hilary

Seamus Jennings (Deputy Service Manager – Fostering, Special Guardianship & Adoption)

I joined Brighter Futures for Children Adoption & Permanence Service in November 2020 and from the beginning of June have become involved in the management and development of the BFfC Fostering Service. I have been in social work for 40+ years and my career has included managing local authority and independent fostering services, including a spell of working in foster care services overseas.

I was introduced to the benefits of foster care for children and young people early in my social worker career and so have an abiding interest in and admiration for what foster carers bring to the lives of children and young people, and the positive and lasting changes they make – hence my commitment to supporting foster carers to continue doing what they do best!

I recently attended an information event for people interested in fostering at which two BFfC foster carers shared their experience and answered questions. It was such a pleasure and a privilege to hear what they said about caring for children and young people, about their work with birth families, with other professionals.

I am excited and enthusiastic about getting to know and work with the colleagues in BFfC Fostering Service and the colleagues from other parts of BFfC and Reading Borough Council who play a part in delivering and developing the service. I feel exactly the same about getting to know BFfC’s foster carers, meeting and finding out about you and your families. Please don’t hesitate to get in touch if you need to reach me before I reach you.

I’ve had a home in Reading since the 1980s, my children grew up locally and I have many happy memories of living here. It’s great to have this opportunity to give something back to the local community through playing a part in building the fostering service.

Seamus