Foster carer receives award in capital today

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Oamaru Child, Youth and Family caregiver, Gillian Lynch, is being presented with a foster care award today in Wellington in recognition of the outstanding support she has given to children and young people in her care.

Ten caregivers from around New Zealand will be recognised at the award ceremony at Government House.

Ms Lynch said she was feeling stunned about the news but that it was a real honour to be acknowledged. She was looking forward to being spoiled for two days in Wellington.

Ms Lynch is a qualified teacher and started fostering children in 1991.

“I noticed there were a few kids in my class at different times that weren’t getting much of a go. I thought what could I do about it? I was single, never been married or had kids.”

Currently a teacher aide at Fenwick School, she said she mostly has one child at a time, sometimes siblings, and has had to work fostering around her teaching.

“It hasn’t been without its troubles,” she said.

“Being able to provide a stable home is the most important thing.”

Ms Lynch moved to Oamaru from Geraldine two years ago and set up the foster caregivers support group. She said people don’t understand how difficult caregiving is as the children have had incredibly tough beginnings, often suffering neglect, physical, emotional and/or sexual abuse. Some have witnessed the effects of parental drug and alcohol abuse and family violence.

“I think you’ve got to be open-minded and tolerant. A wee bit crazy. But it’s great. For me as a single person being involved in a lot of kids lives is great.”

“I now have grandchildren. We have a great time together and I just can’t imagine my life being any different.”

Bernadine Mackenzie, head of Child, Youth and Family, said that people who foster children are the un-sung heroes of this country.

“Care suggests a safe place to sleep, food, clothes and meeting children’s needs. But we know that caregivers do something much bigger than this by giving hope, love and creating moments where children can begin to trust and grow.”

PHOTO: Oamaru resident, Gillian Lynch, who is one of 10 caregivers from around New Zealand recognised for giving outstanding support to children and young people in her care.