Richard Dickson, an inspirational foster carer with over 10 years’ experience working for Croydon Council, has been presented with the prestigious President’s Award at The Fostering Network’s annual Fostering Excellence ceremony.
The awards ceremony, held in central London on Tuesday 17 November, was hosted by television star Holly Willoughby, and attended by HRH the Duchess of Cambridge.
Richard’s accolade is in acknowledgment of his tremendous services to fostered children, particularly unaccompanied refugees from countries such as North Korea, Afghanistan, Ivory Coast, and the Congolese republics.
Whilst many of these children and young people have showed huge bravery and potential there have been a variety of common hurdles to overcome, such as language, cultural, and religious differences. Meanwhile others have presented a range of behavioral challenges and there has been the ongoing process to manage of long applications for asylum and regular home office interviews.
Richard said, “Despite the many challenges I think they are all outweighed by the positive outcomes we see these young people achieve time after time. It’s been fantastic to help some of them become more confident and independent in a new country, where they have often gone on to achieve academically and be offered university places.”
The council is always looking for new foster parents to recruit and support, and over the last year Richard has been a mentor for new carers and has recently started supporting them to complete their Training Support and Development Standards. He has also been chosen to co-train on a safer caring course for male foster carers. As well as all this, Richard has been an education champion for London Fostering Achievement, working with foster carers, teachers and young people to raise educational aspirations and achievements.
Foster carers, children and young people, and people from throughout the fostering community from across the UK joined Richard in attending the annual celebration of fostering.
Jim Bond MBE, president of The Fostering Network, said: “Richard is more than a foster carer; he is an advocate for all children and young people. His absolute empathy for those he cares for, combined with his tireless enthusiasm for justice and his positive attitude, are what makes him exceptional. I know that all who have worked with him at The Fostering Network have seen the tremendous value and support that he brings to those who enter his home and that is why I am humbled to be awarding this year’s President’s Award to Richard.”
Councillor Alisa Flemming, Croydon’s cabinet member for children, families and learning, said, “I’m absolutely delighted for Richard and extremely proud that he has developed his skills whilst looking after children in Croydon. It’s fantastic that he is now sharing his experience with others, and I hope this news will encourage more people to come forward and explore this rewarding career opportunity.”
For more information on becoming a foster carer visit www.croydon.gov.uk/fostering