Wigan's LGBTQ+ community encouraged to consider fostering and adoption

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Members of the LGBTQ+ community in Wigan borough are being encouraged to consider adoption and fostering to grow their family.

The initiative comes as part of a national awareness week, promoted by Wigan Council, aimed at dispelling concerns that gender or sexual orientation could stand in the way.

Speaking as part of LGBTQ+ Adoption and Fostering Week, Coun Jenny Bullen, Cabinet Member for Children and Families at Wigan Council, urged anyone who could provide a loving home for a child to explore their options.

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Michelle and Sharon Palmer-LoweMichelle and Sharon Palmer-Lowe
Michelle and Sharon Palmer-Lowe

She said: “There are children in our borough right now who need safe, loving families to care for them.

“It doesn’t matter to us if you are cisgender, transgender, non-binary, straight, lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, gender fluid, or if you prefer to use your own terms.

“It doesn’t matter if you are single or not.

“What’s important is that you are comfortable with who you are and that you could offer a child a stable and caring home.

“If you’re interested in either adopting a child, or becoming part of our local fostering community, we would love to hear from you.”

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As part of the week, local foster carers Michelle and Sharon Palmer-Lowe, from Wigan, have been sharing their story.

Michelle said: “Four years ago, our daughter was on the verge of spreading her wings and leaving home so we felt it was perfect timing to look into foster care and decided to go to an open evening.

“Since then, we’ve fostered 11 children, some long-term, and we also took care of some children for shorter periods of time on an emergency basis during the pandemic.

“We’re currently taking care of two teenage girls.

"When we first thought about fostering, we thought we’d be more suited to looking after cute three-year-olds, it can be easy to overlook teenagers, but in some ways they often need you more.

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“They need guidance as they’re becoming adults because it can be such a difficult time.

"We try to treat them as adults as much as we can, but always keep in mind that they’re still children.

“We’ve fostered siblings in the past and have always enjoyed knowing that we were helping to keep a family together.

"It really helps the children as it gives them a sense of normality, being together with their sisters or brothers.”

LGBTQ+ Adoption and Fostering Week runs from March 6 to 12.

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It aims to encourage the LGBTQ+ community to consider building a family and raises awareness of different parenting options.

Michelle added: “We’ve never found being part of the LGBTQ+ community to be an issue in any way.

“From the moment we expressed an interest in fostering with Wigan Council, we were never treated any differently to any of the other foster carers, we were always treated with respect.

“Before we looked into it we weren’t 100% sure that we would be allowed to foster, so I’m keen to get the word out there to everyone in the LGBTQ+ community that you can.

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“If you’re even thinking a little bit about it, just do it, jump in, find out more.

"There are so many children who are desperate for care, and you really can change their lives."

This month there will be information sessions about fostering on Thursday March 16 at Progress House in Wigan, 6pm to 7pm, and about adoption on Monday April 3 at 6pm (online).

To find out more about fostering with Wigan Council, read more about Michelle and Sharon’s experience, and to book a place on one of the information events go to www.wigan.gov.uk/fostering