Family’s plea for more people to consider fostering
Child refugees from war-torn countries have become “‘just like family”, according to an Ashford couple who have been taking in youngsters for more than two decades.
Sue and Leigh Thomas, both 47, have fostered dozens of unaccompanied minors from as far afield as Sudan, Afghanistan and Eritrea, as well as bringing up their own three children.
Sue said: “I met Leigh at a children’s home in Ashford, so we were both working with children before we met.
“When I had my son I had to make a career decision. We knew we both wanted to carry on working with children, so while I was pregnant with Callum we decided to go into fostering.”
During the next two decades the family welcomed young asylum seekers from war-torn countries.
While some children may only stay for a matter of months, others could need care for many years.
The pair even took on their first refugees before their son Callum was born.
Sue added: “He considers them his brothers.
“They came to the hospital the day he was born and have been in his life the whole time.”
Callum, now 20, added: “I could go to them with anything.
“It’s more than a friendship, it’s a brotherhood. It’s the same as the whole family, they’re part of the family.”
However, now the couple are calling for more people considering fostering to step forward, after a sharp rise in unaccompanied asylum seekers in the county.
In March 2014, there were just 220 such children being cared for by Kent County Council.
However, by the beginning of this month, that figure had risen to more than 700.
The family elieve that people should also try to see the human side of the current refugee crisis.
Leigh said: “Whether they’re a child who’s come from Britain or a land overseas it makes no difference.
“They are primarily and absolutely children first and need to be looked after with the same care and attention regardless.
KCC will be holding an open evening for anyone interested in finding out more about fostering on Thursday, September 24, at Ditton Community Centre in Ashford.
Derek Beach, 40, tweeted this picture after being stuck in the traffic for more than three hours