A BRADFORD foster mum has spoken of the rewards of fostering as she encourages others to find out more about the vocation.

Nikola Smith and her husband Tony, from Thornton, foster two children, aged 13 and 17, through charity Barnardo's.

Ahead of Barnardo's Fostering Week next month, Ms Smith has spoken of the fulfilment of being a foster carer and the difference you can make in a vulnerable child's life.

She said: “Right from the outset we decided we wanted to help children, to give them as stable a life as possible and to really try and make a difference to their lives.

“It’s the most difficult job I’ve ever done, but I can look and say to myself ‘this is how they were when they came and this is how they are now’.

"Our eldest foster child is doing very well at school which is a great achievement for any child, whether fostered or not, but especially for a foster child that hasn’t had the same start in life as everybody else.

“I’d recommend it to anyone – it’s so fulfilling. It’s not like 9-5, you don’t get to leave it at work, it’s there all the time and you have to fight to help your children - for what they need to help them move forward and deal with some of the traumas they’ve had and become a good rounded adult.”

As part of its Fostering Week, the charity is applauding its inspiring foster carers who give vulnerable children the chance to have a safe, happy childhood and bright future.

Since Barnardo’s first fostering campaign ten years ago, the charity has found loving foster families to care for vulnerable children more than 8,200 times.

Over the decade, the number of children in care in England has risen by 27 per cent. But without more foster carers, Barnardo’s could struggle to find the right carers to look after children.

This is why the charity is appealing to people to find out about how they can become foster carers and help change a child’s life, especially for those children who are disabled, have siblings, are older, or from a religious or minority ethnic background.

Barnardo’s head of fostering and adoption Brenda Farrell said: “Every child deserves a safe and happy childhood. We urgently need more foster carers to ensure that children in care have just this.

"We know that being a foster carer can be challenging, but we also know how incredibly rewarding it is and have seen first-hand the positive difference it can make to a child’s life."

To find out more about becoming a foster carer or the support Barnardo’s can offer visit barnardos.org.uk/what-we-do/fostering-and-adoption or call 0800 0277 280.