Southampton Football Club has announced a cooperation with the Council’s fostering service.
There are currently 510 children in care, with slightly more than half being sent outside of Southampton due to a lack of fostering homes.
Southampton Football Club has established a partnership with Southampton City Council’s fostering department, Fostering Southampton, to help children and young people in the community have a better future. The program, which debuts during Southampton City Council’s Love Our Children week, seeks foster carers from a variety of backgrounds and cultures who will receive full training and expert assistance in order to offer a supportive environment for children in need.
Saints, in cooperation with Fostering Southampton, is committed to ensuring that children and young people in Southampton have valuable chances to stay linked to their families, friends, and existing schools. There are currently 510 children in care, with slightly more than half of them having to be put outside of Southampton due to a lack of fostering homes inside the city. The alliance aims to ensure stability and continuity in the lives of these children by assisting in the recruitment of local foster caregivers, allowing them to thrive within the familiarity of their surroundings. Over the course of the 2023/24 season, Southampton FC will collaborate with Fostering Southampton to support both existing and new foster carers and their families by providing free game tickets, merchandise, and exclusive offers.
Foster carers play a pivotal role in shaping the lives of these young individuals, and the football club is proud to be working with Fostering Southampton to encourage individuals passionate about making a positive impact to find out more about opportunities within fostering. The initiative welcomes foster carers from various walks of life, regardless of their working arrangements, whether full-time or part-time or family background or heritage. Applicants must be aged 21 and over – and all that’s required is a spare bedroom and the dedication to creating a safe and supportive environment for these deserving children.
The campaign will be supported by a digital Out-Of-Home advertising campaign, with drawings of Southampton’s Men’s and Women’s First Team players dotted around the city. The drawings have been completed by young people in care and their foster families.
As part of wider support for Love Our Children Week, Southampton FC will be arranging a special stadium tour for young people and their foster carers. On Thursday 28th September there will also be a football match at a local school between those young people in care and staff at Fostering Southampton. Southampton FC Women’s First Team players Sophia Pharoah and Katie Wilkinson will be in attendance to give support and cheer on from the sidelines. The club will also be giving tickets to a group of foster carers and young people in care to attend the Men’s First Team game on 30th September as Southampton FC take on Leeds United at St Mary’s.
Announcing the partnership, Greg Baker, Director of Community for Southampton Football Club, said: “We are excited to embark on this meaningful partnership with Fostering Southampton. Our club believes in the power of community and supporting those most in need in our city, and this initiative aligns perfectly with our values. By encouraging our fans to consider becoming foster carers, we hope to offer stability to these children and reinforce the bonds that keep them connected to their roots. Together, we can create an environment where every child has the opportunity to thrive.”
The campaign is being backed by ex-Saints footballer Pedro ‘Pele’ Monteiro, who has been fostering children with his wife Jo for almost 10 years.
Discussing the partnership and his own experience fostering, Pele said: “We’ve cared for over 70 foster children over the years and feel incredibly lucky to have done so. Fostering can be challenging, but the rewards are immeasurable. Our two biological children have formed close bonds with many of our foster children, and fostering has taught them valuable life skills and empathy. We highly recommend fostering to anyone who has extra love to give and space in their heart and home. The training and support provided by the Southampton foster care network is exceptional, and being part of this community of foster carers has been an incredible experience.”
Councillor Alex Winning, Cabinet Member for Children and Learning at Southampton City Council, added: ‘Southampton Football Club has always been a great ally to Fostering Southampton, regularly donating tickets and merchandise to us. We are delighted to partner with them officially this season to highlight and celebrate fostering.
“Southampton children deserve the best from their city, and our foster carers offer so much time, love, and respect to our young people. Southampton City Council, and many local authorities in the UK urgently need to recruit more foster carers for children and young people from the city who are unable to live with their own families. These children and young people need nurture, stability and support from foster carers in a safe and loving home environment. This could be for a few nights, weeks, months or even years. With this support, children can grow and thrive.”