Health and Wellbeing

North Devon social worker scoops national Fostering Network award

Lindsay (centre) with daughters Eloise Wale and Tiffany Carpenter, at Drapers Hall, London, for the Fostering Network Awards 2018.

Posted on: 5 November 2018

A social worker from North Devon has won a national award for the work she does with foster carers and their families.

Lindsay Hartley Russell is a member of Devon County Council’s Fostering Team, based in Barnstaple and whose area covers North Devon and Torridge.

Inspired by walks that she and her children enjoyed on family holidays to North Devon, Lindsay wanted to recreate the experience for children in foster care.

So she started arranging walks for foster carers and their families, and with it an opportunity for carers and children to meet up socially.

“The idea came from thinking back to when my own children, now grown up and with their own children, and I used to come on our summer holidays to Devon,” says Lindsay.

“We had very little money for expensive activities, so with a map, book of local walks and a picnic, we set off exploring the wonderful coastal and country landscapes, creating fun walks and many happy shared memories that we still talk about today.”

Lindsay discussed it with a foster carer and the idea was born.

The first walk was a year ago, and since then they have arranged walks during each school holiday with two in the summer holidays, taking in different locations across North Devon and Torridge.

“We try to encompass various challenges, such as steep hills, getting lost, paddling in streams and boggy fields, which we always overcome together with lots of laughs and a real sense of achievement.

“Each walk always finishes with refreshments in a local café.”

Lindsay says that the walks have brought foster carers and the children they care for together, and have created a sense of well-being and belonging.  And they are creating many shared happy memories.

And for helping to create these opportunities, Lindsay was nominated by a foster carer, and now has won a prestigious award in this year’s Fostering Network Awards.

She received her award at Fostering Network’s annual awards ceremony in London.

Foster Carer, Caroline Maund, said:

“Lindsay’s walks are a fantastic boost to Devon and should be recognised and emulated through every area.

“They give the children opportunities to meet others in care and realise that they are not alone, and begin to make new friends.

“The walks have enabled so many carers in Devon, in North Devon in particular, to feel part of a large extended family, with the great sense of well-being and belonging that a family atmosphere can bring.”

James McInnesCouncillor James McInnes, Devon County Council’s Cabinet member with responsibility for children’s services, said:

“Congratulations to Lindsay!  Really well deserved!  She’s a great example, drawing upon personal experiences and happy memories to help bring some normality to the lives of children in care.  It’s those shared moments that children do remember and that will help shape their own lives as they grow older.”

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