An urgent appeal has been launched by children's charity, Barnardo's, calling for more foster carers to care for vulnerable teenagers across west London.
According to fostering charity, The Fostering Network, in the next 12 months around 830 more foster carers will be needed in the capital with claims from the charity that a child goes into care every 20 minutes in the UK.
Jem Ayeh-Kumi, originally from Feltham, fosters children at her home in Bracknell, Berkshire.
She said: "The most rewarding thing is seeing the difference you can make to a child’s life, and being able to watch their progress.
She continued: "You can’t expect a massive change overnight, it’s about lots of little changes over time, but it can be just as rewarding for the foster carer as it is for the child."
Around 50,000 teenagers are in care in the UK and someone who has welcomed many children through her front door is The Only Way is Essex star, Debbie Douglas, who has fostered 250 children.
She said: "Being a teenager is hard at the best of times and being a teenager in care can be even harder.
"Having a stable, happy, loving home where you can relax and be yourself while knowing you are genuinely cared for is so important.
"Every teenager deserves this opportunity."
Debbie and her daughter, Lydia Bright, are supporting the Barnardo's appeal, and foster daughter, 18-year-old Ellie opened up about being welcomed into their family.
She said: "Being part of Debbie and Lydia’s family has made such a positive difference to my life.
"Just having someone there for you when you get home from school, someone to listen to you, or give you a hug when you need it can make such a difference."
According to a Barnardo's survey of 2,156 people, some of the toughest issues people faced when they were teenagers include depression, being bullied, worrying about being popular and worrying about appearance.
Barnardo’s chief executive, Javed Khan said: "Without enough foster families thousands of teenagers risk the heartbreak of being moved around and separated from their siblings.
"Foster families support teenagers and help them learn essential life skills which are vital in helping them go on to lead positive independent lives."
For more information about fostering, go to Barnardo's website.
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