15 December 2015

From Whitehawk to Buckingham Palace: MBE joy for foster carers

A man who himself grew up in foster care in the Whitehawk area of Brighton has received an MBE for his services to foster care.

Rob Goddard and his wife Mandy have been looking after children for Brighton & Hove City Council for 23 years.

During this time they have looked after more than 65 children, welcoming them into a warm and nurturing home and providing them with a secure base from which they can develop.

Mandy has also been honoured. As an Irish citizen, Mandy will receive an honorary MBE at a separate ceremony in the new year. The two awards were announced in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List earlier this year.

Rob said: “This honour was completely unexpected, and going to Buckingham Palace to receive it was the proudest moment of my life.

“I had one set of foster carers for the whole of my childhood in Whitehawk. They have always treated me as part of their family, and that’s what we do now.

“I love being a foster carer. You need to listen to the children and give them time and attention. They need to feel a sense of belonging. They need warmth and nurturing but they also need boundaries.

“For children who’ve had a difficult start in life and can’t live with their parents just being able to enjoy a normal Christmas can be a big bonus.

“Fostering means everything to me. I was lucky, so for me it’s wonderful to give something back and let other children share the good fortune that I had.

“You can make a huge difference to a child’s life, and that’s a great feeling.

“We’d like to thank our own sons Dean and Glen, my foster parents Ada and Fred Goddard and all the foster children we’ve looked after over the years.”

Building trust is the key, says Mandy.

“Sometimes they act tough but it’s a defence mechanism.

“When they realise that you’re not going to give up on them you see the change and it’s really exciting. They have so much to give.

“It’s about boosting their confidence and making them feel good about themselves.”

The chair of the council’s children, young people and skills committee is Councillor Tom Bewick. Like Rob, Tom was himself looked after by foster carers as a child.

Councillor Bewick said: “I know first-hand just how important their role is in helping vulnerable children. When you’ve been neglected in the past you really appreciative even basic things like clean clothes and baths, let alone love and kindness.

“Rob and Mandy have been fantastic foster carers for us over so many years. We’re also grateful for all the help and support they have given other local carers.

“Foster carers are among the unsung heroes of society, so I’m also delighted that their vital contribution has been recognised in this way.”

If you’d like to know more about becoming a foster carer, Brighton & Hove City Council’s fostering team would love to hear from you.

Financial allowances of up to £1,400 per month are available for every child or young person you foster.

To find out more about becoming a foster carer please come along to Brighton & Hove City Council’s next fostering information event on Saturday 23 January from 10am to 11.30am at Stanmer House, Stanmer Park, Brighton BN1 9QA. Or you could:

  • phone the council’s fostering team for a friendly chat on (01273) 295444
  • email fostering@brighton-hove.gov.uk
  • visit www.fosteringinbrightonandhove.org.uk