A SAME sex couple has spoken out about the joys of fostering a little girl in a bid to encourage more people in Cheshire West to follow in their footsteps.

Stephen grew up in a caring, sharing family and always wanted to have a family of his own.

When he met James they began talking about fostering together and became approved carers for Cheshire West and Chester Council.

They have now been looking after Sophie for several years and have never looked back.

Stephen said: “You know that you’re doing something amazing when the little girl in your care, who says she only skips when she’s really happy, skips into school every day.

“Watching her grow is the greatest reward ever.”

Now, during LGB Adoption and Fostering Week 2018, they are encouraging other same sex couples to apply to the council if they are considering fostering a child.

They initially went along to a fostering drop-in information event and began their journey to becoming foster carers for the council.

Sophie came into their lives and the couple have been supported by the council’s training programme, which was invaluable in helping them adjust to family life.

In the last couple of years the family has become a happy and contented unit, the council says.

Stephen said: “Over the two and a half years that she has been with us, we have seen her grow into a happy, confident little girl, which is fantastic to see.

“When she was first placed with us, she was a shy, timid little person who was lacking in confidence. Nowadays, as time has gone on, she has grown into an outgoing, confident little girl and it is lovely to see.”

He added: “A lot of same sex couples feel that it is not something that they would be able to do. Many feel that they will be treated differently to other foster carers because they have been treated differently at other times in their life.

“Having worked with the council’s fostering teams we have found that that is absolutely not the case. You are treated the same as everybody else and I would encourage other same sex couples to contact the council if they are thinking about fostering.”

Cllr Nicole Meardon, cabinet member for children and young people, said: “I’d like to thank every one of our foster families who help to welcome foster children into their family and home. Every child deserves the best start in life and the support of our foster carers is essential in helping us to protect some of our most vulnerable children.

“Every foster family has their own story to tell about their fostering journey and I would urge anyone thinking about fostering to contact Cheshire West and Chester Council and speak to our team to find out about the support on offer. We need to recruit more foster families to help care for some of our most vulnerable children and young people. If you think you could foster please get in touch.”

The council urgently needs more foster carers, particularly for young people aged 11 and over. Take the first step to becoming a foster carer by completing the enquiry form online at fosteringwestcheshire.co.uk or by telephoning 01244 972222.

All names have been changed in this article for safeguarding reasons.