Mockingbird… the biggest, greatest support
Nearly 50 children and young people in foster care in Portsmouth and the surrounding area benefit from the Mockingbird Programme. The award-winning and sustainable foster care model comprises of a ‘constellation’ of up to ten ‘satellite’ fostering households, offering the relationships and support similar to that of an extended family.
At the heart of each ‘constellation’ is a ‘hub home’ where a specifically recruited and trained hub home foster carer offers vital peer support and guidance to all the carers within the constellation, in addition to respite care in the form of sleepovers and social activities, all of which strengthen relationships and permanence.
The Mockingbird Programme has been shown to empower families to support each other and overcome problems before they develop. It has also shown significant benefits to the lives of children and young people in care by normalising foster care, minimising placement disruption and building positive links with other families.
Portsmouth City Council introduced the programme, which in the UK is delivered by leading fostering charity The Fostering Network, with its first constellation launch in January 2021. Since then, the model has gone from strength to strength and Foster Portsmouth is progressively rolling the scheme out across the city and the surrounding areas.
“Last year we became part of one of the Mockingbird consultations and I think that has been just the biggest, greatest support for us. Sometimes you just need someone that you can go to… and they completely get it. They’ve got us through [any] tough times and we’ve had some fantastic days out with all of children.”
The couple’s constellation hub carer is Ali. Patsy added:
“She’s [always] there with an idea or response. She can come on around and have a cup of tea or take the young person out and give us a bit of a break. It’s also other people that [the young people] can go to talk to. It has worked really well because we also get some of the other children from the constellation visit and our child gets to go somewhere else. They are real friends and get along; it’s just really supportive.”
Patsy and Tony have also been able to offer sleepovers themselves within the ‘hub’ to the siblings of one of the children they were caring for.