Meet the woman who's become a mum to more than 30 young people
PUBLISHED: 10:00 15 May 2019
© Rehan Jamil
Could you provide a loving home to a child unable to live with their parents?
Foster care fortnight, which runs from Monday, May 13 until Sunday, May 26, aims to highlight the job foster carers do and encourage others to come forward.
Kim Beard started fostering 11 years ago after experiencing "empty nest syndrome" when her two children grew up.
"My husband and I sat down and said, 'What are we good at?'" she explained.
"He saw an advert for fostering and we've never looked back."
The 59-year-old estimates she's looked after more than 30 children and young people in that time.
"Some I've had for a few days," she said. "Some I've had for weeks, and some for months.
"I started off with under 10s but I've had children of all ages."
Kim, who has lived in Tower Hamlets her whole life, explained that looking after young people - some of whom have experienced difficulties in their lives - could be challenging at times.
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"I've been stolen from, which was upsetting," she said.
"But then you think about what must have gone in their life."
She added that her 26-year-old son and her daughter, 32, have both been very supportive of her becoming a foster carer.
"Some of the children I've looked after keep in contact with me, and we have big family picnics," she said.
"We throw celebrations for their birthdays, things like that."
There are currently 345 children in care in Tower Hamlets, 230 of which are placed with a foster family.
There are currently 107 foster families looking after children in the borough, and to anyone interested in adding to that number, Kim said: "It's hard work, but it's very rewarding."
Anyone interested in finding out more about being a foster carer is invited to attend an information session at Tower Hamlets Town Hall on Thursday, May 16 between 6pm and 8pm.
It will feature a virtual reality experience designed to allow prospective parents to see the impact of fostering through the eyes of a child.
For more information, visit fosteringandadoption.co.uk or call 0800 279 9850.