“WE ALL need a cuddle, we all need to feel safe and we all need a home.”

That’s the message from a foster carer who is appealing for others to help children in need across Dorset.

Today marks the start of Fostering Fortnight, an initiative to get more residents to consider taking in young people, particularly teens.

Dorset County Council will be holding drop-in sessions for anyone interested.

Tracy Joslin, from Dorchester, has been a foster carer for 13 years and has looked after five children with two more due to come in to her care soon.

Tracy, aged 50, said she can’t think of a ‘more rewarding’ job.

She said: “As a young child I was adopted, so the experience of finding my own parents was interesting.

“I never found my biological father.

“I went on to have two daughters of my own and when they grew up and left home, I thought I would like to have the opportunity to offer somebody else a home.

“If anybody out there is thinking of fostering, go for it.

“Whether you are gay, over 65, a single man or woman; if you have a spare room and a place in your heart please consider it.

“We live in beautiful Dorset and even so, there are a lot of kids that need your help.”

More than three quarters of the children waiting for a foster placement are aged 11 or over.

Tracy said: “There are an awful lot of children waiting for care and a lot of them are teens.

“I think people are frightened to give teenagers a home.

“There are teens with complex needs, disabled children; but they all have the one thing in common – they just want a home and someone to care for them.”

She added: “The process does take some time; they are going to go in to your past and history and look at bank accounts - but it’s worth sticking with it.

“Because the joy you get from a little kid coming in to your home, feeling like life hasn’t given them much to be grateful for, then seeing that child walk out the door as a grown up with a job and confidence and purpose, makes it all worthwhile.”

The drop-in sessions will be held tomorrow at The Dorford Centre, Dorchester from 4.30pm to 9pm and on Friday, May 23, at The Hanham Centre in Wimborne from 10am till 2pm.

Teenagers in need of stability

COUNCILLOR Rebecca Knox, Dorset County Council cabinet member for children’s safeguarding and families, said: “Some people think that teenagers don’t need you as much as younger children but, in many ways, they actually need you more.

“We can all remember what it’s like at that age – you have to learn to stand on your own two feet and figure out where you want to go in life, whilst juggling school and a social life.

“It’s a hard enough time for most young people but, for those in care, it can be even harder. We need foster carers who can provide the stability and boundaries to keep a teen safe, but also help and encourage them to reach their full potential.

“If you think you have the time, patience and compassion to look after a young person in care, then please get in touch.

“We are happy to answer any questions and guide you through the process of becoming a foster carer, including all the support you will receive.”