Young high-flier backs urgent appeal for foster carers

Could you make a positive difference to the life of a child or teenager?

The council’s Fostering Service is in urgent need of more foster carers in Brighton & Hove, especially for teenagers, and is appealing to those with a spare room to consider offering a home and stability to a young person

Gemma Creamer’s life was transformed when she was fostered by a Brighton family at a desperate time. Now 19, Gemma has shared her story to inspire more people in the city to open their hearts and homes to fostering.

At age 14, Gemma was in need of a foster home after her mother died and her relationship with her dad broke down.  Foster carers Shelley and Nicholas took her into their family home – initially for an emergency short stay – and gave her the security and care she needed.

Gemma said: “What started as a 2-week respite break turned into a 4-year foster placement. As soon as I stepped in their front door I immediately felt this was where I was meant to be”

“My foster mum and dad have given me the safe, loving home and stability I was craving. They’ve also believed in me – and that support has helped put me on a path to a future that wouldn’t have been otherwise possible.”

At 17, Gemma helped set up a charity, Beyond – which helps young people leaving care to access support. She continues to play a prominent role in the charity – and is now at university in London studying to be a barrister. 

But though Gemma has left home, her relationship with her carers continues.

She added: “They are my family and that will never change. I talk to Shelley every day. We are so close.

“Shelley filled a void in my life, and while you can’t replace a mum, which she’s never tried to, she gave me the unconditional love and support that a mum would, and that was all I was after.”

“The truth is, we all just need someone to care, even if it were just one person. That one person could change your life.”

Gemma said: “I would encourage anyone considering fostering to give it a try. There may be a child or young person out there who needs you, and you could save their life.”

Gemma Creamer speaking at the Federation of Awarding Bodies annual conference 2021

Cathy Seiderer, Fostering Recruitment Manager at the council’s Fostering Service said: “We’re  urgently appealing for more people to consider fostering, especially teenagers.

“Gemma’s story demonstrates the incredible difference that fostering can make to a teenager’s life, and it’s a story echoed by many of the young people we work with who were fostered as a teenager. Our foster carers tell us how fulfilling the experience can be for them too.

“We carefully match children and teenagers with carers and, as a local authority-run service, offer our foster carers full training and continuous support.

"We welcome everyone who can make a positive difference to a child or teenager’s life. By joining us you’ll be part of a close and supportive foster care community.”

Foster with Brighton & Hove

Brighton & Hove Fostering Service has more than 160 fostering households in its council-run fostering community. Foster carers receive a competitive weekly allowance.

If you’re interested in fostering, visit the Brighton & Hove Fostering Service website to find out more. We also host regular online fostering information sessions where you can meet our team and ask foster carers about their experiences. The next sessions are 16 and 22 March. 

Beyond, the charity Gemma helped to found, helps care leavers to access the support they need to reach their full potential, as well as working to minimise the barriers they face.  

In November 2021, Beyond became the nominated charity for the Federation of Awarding Bodies annual conference. As Team Leader, Gemma spoke to more than 200 attendees at an awards dinner about the work of the Trust.

She said: “I have turned my adversity into an advantage, and I feel that with the right support, this can be the same for every care leaver.”

Find out more about Beyond and watch Gemma's interview: 

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