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There’s no secret sauce to being a foster carer: Stoke-on-Trent Dispels the myths with email

Foster care is at the top of most council’s priority list, here we’ve asked Karen Steele, Digital Manager from Stoke-On-Trent Council to tell us about their recent email campaign that successfully engaged with potential foster carers and helped to dispel common myths.

There are a lot of myths about foster carers:

  • They can’t work full-time
  • But they can’t be unemployed
  • They can’t be too old
  • But they can’t be too young
  • They can’t have children of their own
  • But they can’t be childless

Much like Goldilocks’ mythical bowl of porridge, they have to be just right – at least that’s what a lot of people think. But the truth is that foster carers are just like you – and me: they cover the full spectrum of the human condition, with all its flaws and (more importantly) all its strengths.

It’s these myths that Stoke-on-Trent City Council’s latest fostering campaign is aimed at dispelling, after research from enquiries submitted to the fostering team showed most people’s questions about fostering could be really easily answered.

The eye-catching idents speak directly to those people who ask:

  • But what if I’m single?
  • But what if I’m unemployed?
  • But what if I work full-time?
  • But what if I’m a man?

Stoke on Trent Foster blog

The images – which all expand further on their particular myth – have been used in the authority’s fostering email bulletin on a regular basis (and especially during the current fostering fortnight) to encourage as many of its 1,233 subscribers to take what can often be the daunting first step of attending an information evening.

A week before the monthly information events, we send a bulletin out to all the fostering subscribers; some of them will open it, some of them won’t (actually these get a solid open rate of around 33 per cent on average) because it’s not the right time for them. Then, on the morning of the event we send a reminder out to those people who opened the first bulletin – people who might have forgotten, who might just need a little nudge, who might need one of those myths dispelling, who might be you!

It seems to be working, because comparisons between people who attended and people who opened both of these event notifications  showed around a dozen who attended a recent session. And around 50 per cent of these ‘engaged’ subscribers opened the reminder email.

One of the myths people have raised (and we’re tackling) is that if they foster, they won’t get any support. Research shows it can be two years between people first thinking of fostering to taking the plunge, and our fostering bulletins are a great way of supporting them even before they become foster carers with us, to help them decide if this is the right step for them.

This fostering fortnight we hope we’re dispelling the myth that foster carers are mythical perfect beings like unicorns, but just as magical.