A DEDICATED foster carer who has taken in more than 260 young people over the years has been recognised for her “inspirational” work.
Pam Bell, 66, started fostering around 40 years ago and says she doesn’t think she could ever give it up.
The retired civil servant admits to having taken in some difficult characters, including prostitutes and drug addicts. But says fostering is her life and she enjoys offering a home and stability to the young people.
It all started when Pam, and her late husband, Stan, wanted to adopt.
The couple, who have two sons, Steven, 45, and Andrew, 43, were advised to try fostering instead – and never looked back.
They have taken in children as young as five or six years old, and some remained in their care into their early 20s.
Pam is still fostering today and currently has four youngsters living with her at her home in Seaton Carew.
“Helping the youngsters out and seeing them grow up is just fantastic,” said Pam.
“We have been lucky enough to have some amazing young people, I don’t think I could ever give this job up.”
Before Stan died four years ago, aged 70, he walked three of the couple’s “children” down the aisle, which Pam says is an indication of the close relationship they build up with the youngsters they care for.
Pam, who is also stepmum to Jackie Gray, added: “It’s just about making the youngsters feel at home.
“We have had a lot of different types of young people, and you do have to change your tact sometimes, but fostering has given me some fantastic times.”
For the last 10 years, Pam has fostered with Foster Care Associates (FCA) North East and she praised them for their support and training.
The organisation gave Pam a long service award for her dedication to the cause.
Mike Austin, FCA North East area manager, said: “To maintain such unwavering commitment to the young people in her care, even after the loss of her husband, is inspirational.
“Pam goes above and beyond what is expected of foster carers, she has dedicated her life to helping young people and continually demonstrates enthusiasm and passion.”
People who are interested in fostering can contact FCA on (0800) 0234561.
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