Ringsfield carer recognised at ceremony

FOR 15 years Maureen Hunter, known as Mo, has looked after disabled children providing respite for their families.

At a ceremony at the weekend, the 48-year-old from Ringsfield was recognised for her hard work at the Suffolk Fostering Service Long Service Awards.

Mrs Hunter was approved as a Link carer in 1996 and has been a volunteer ever since.

“I do not have children permanently in my home. I give respite care for families of children with disabilities. I do it at my home in Ringsfield”, she said.

“They come to me so it’s a bit of a break.”

She started helping the family of a child with autism, supporting him for ten years. Since then she has been looking after 13-year-old Lewis Manship who has Autism, severe learning disabilities, as well as a physical disability, for which he has had surgery from time to time.

“Families are crying out for respite care”, she said. “Services are always strapped for money and Link is a really valuable service.

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“They boy I look after, I take him to my home after school until about 7pm to 7.30pm. In the school holidays I have him for a full day.

“You build up a good relationship with the family. I really love him. He actually becomes part of your family.”

“People really must not worry about being able to give a lot of time. It’s about what you can give. Sometimes a mum just wants to go to the supermarket, or get her hair done. It is just about making someone’s day. It’s not the big things, it’s the small things.”

She said she had been surprised to receive a letter about the award.

“The letter about the long service came through the post. I just feel a bit overwhelmed by it. I feel the one who is privileged to be involved with this family.”

Mrs Hunter has two grown up children now aged 21 and 18, who have also been very involved, and helped with various activities, including swimming and playing games.

Graham Newman, portfolio holder for children and young people’s services at Suffolk County Council said at the ceremony on Sunday, “Through sheer hard work, immeasurable patience and great enthusiasm Maureen has continued to establish excellent, invaluable Links in and around the Lowestoft area for various children and families.

“Maureen’s children have grown up whilst she has been a carer for the Link Service, they have played an invaluable part of this role. To sum up what Maureen does a parent recently commented “My child’s link with Maureen has opened up his world”

Suffolk County Council are encouraging anyone thinking about fostering to call and speak to someone in the fostering team to get more information on 0800 328 2148 or visit www.suffolkfostering.com.

Suffolk’s Fostering Service will also be having a number of information stands around the County during Foster Care Fortnight which runs until Sunday. If you would like to visit see the website for further information.