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Foster carer inspires son to follow in her footsteps
FOR almost a quarter of a century a Darlington mum has been giving up her time to care for young disabled people.
Every weekend, Jean Roberts provides respite care for youngsters with mental and physical disabilities.
Now, after growing up alongside foster children who were regular visitors to the house, Mrs Roberts' son Peter, 27, is set to follow in her footsteps and become a carer too.
He said his mother was an amazing person who he owed everything to.
“I don’t think I would be half the person I am if it wasn’t for my mum. She is definitely one of a kind.
“The young people enjoy coming because it’s like an extended family to them.
“She gives them a caring, loving and secure place to be. I don't think I would have thought about fostering if it wasn't for my mum.”
Mrs Roberts, 66, of Headingley Crescent, Darlington, began fostering after to moving to the region from Cornwall.
She picked up a Barnardo's fostering leaflet while walking through Darlington town centre.
“I thought 'why not',” she said.
Since then, 15 different young people have visited for respite care over the last 23 years, with some continuing to come although now in adulthood.
Four young people currently visit and Mrs Roberts only gets a weekend off when a month contains five weekends. She also provide emergency care during the week.
“If they stopped coming it would be like having my arm cut off,” says Mrs Roberts, who is a grandmother to five-year-old Selene.
“I really miss them when I don't see them - they are all part of my family.”
Julie McVeigh is an assistant director for Barnardo’s North East, with special responsibility for fostering and adoption for the charity.
She said: “There are thousands of children out there who are looking for a mum and are desperate to become part of a loving family like Jean's.
“On Mother’s Day, when we’re all thinking about the importance of family, it’s the perfect time to take that first step.”