A foster care couple are urging people to make a massive difference to children’s lives by fostering.

Vicky and Jeremy Newell, from Waltham Abbey, are the latest couple to support Essex County Council’s drive to find 100 new foster carers.

The campaign launched during Foster Care Fortnight, the annual awareness event run by UK charity the Fostering Network from Monday, May 13 to Sunday, May 26.

“We had thought about fostering for a while and considered it more seriously after holidays with friends and their foster children,” said Mrs Newell, 51, who gave up a career in sales to become a full-time foster carer.

“They said how rewarding it is and we’ve also found it very rewarding and enjoyable. Opening our home to vulnerable children and watching them change over time is great.”

The Newell’s have five birth children aged 13 to 23 and have fostered eight children over the past six years through the council’s Fostering Service.

Essex County Council is staging several information events where foster carers like the Newell’s will speak to anyone who is interested in finding out more information.

“You do love them. Whilst they’re here, they’re your children. Explained Mrs Newell. “We take them to London, Center Parcs, the Norfolk Broads, these are new experiences and they learn so much.”

“Some have stayed for 18 months and it is emotional to say goodbye for us all when they’re reunited or adopted. But we almost always keep in touch.”

There are now around 750 children in foster care in Essex, a number which has been increasing for the past two years.

In addition, the rate of children leaving care has slowed down, bringing into sharp focus the need to recruit more foster carers for children.

Mrs Newell added: “People are struggling to become foster carers due to modern commitments, but we do need more, and I urge everyone to consider it.

“I never thought I could, but with all the support and training, you do gradually learn, we’ve just loved the experience.”

Cllr Louise McKinlay, Cabinet member for children and families, said: “More mature parents are a key focus for us. They come with so much knowledge and we want to ensure people like them don’t rule themselves out because they feel they would be rejected on grounds of age; this is not the case.”

Corrie Castleman, fostering team manager at Essex County Council, said: “Older foster parents have a wealth of experience and time to offer.

“You are never too old to be a foster carer, we have people foster into their seventies and you could, too.

“Vulnerable children desperately need you, please contact our friendly team to answer any concerns you may have.”

To talk to people like the Newells and find out about some of the children you could help, call 0800 801 530 or visit www.essexadoptionandfostering.co.uk/fostering

A drop-in Fostering Information Event is scheduled to take place in in Clacton on Thursday, May 23.