Our First Mockingbird Constellation: the All Stars
The award-winning Mockingbird programme is a nationwide scheme run by The Fostering Network, which brings together Foster Carers and Kinship Carers in a nurturing community under the premise that it takes a village to raise a child.
Our first West Sussex constellation, the All Stars, launched in October 2022. One year on, we caught up with our carers and children to find out what impact being part of a Mockingbird constellation has had on them.
Meet the All Stars Mockingbird Constellation
Our member families have a variety of different experiences ranging from caring for babies, to supporting teenagers. Viv and Dave, with an impressive 12 years of fostering experience, are the Hub Home Carers for the All Stars. Other members include Peta and Andy who are Foster Carers for two young people; Judith who is a Foster Carer for one; Intan is a Foster Carer with one child she cares for alongside her birth child, Gillian is a Special Guardian carer with three children, and Libby is a Special Guardian carer with one child.
The constellation takes pride in the 11 children it currently supports. Their ages span from 10 months to 15 years with four children in foster care, six children under a Special Guardianship Order and one child who is adopted.
You can watch a short video with Hub Home Carers, Viv and Dave as they talk about their experience at the heart of the All Stars below.
Being in a Mockingbird constellation brings new experiences and activities
The All Stars members enjoy an exciting social life together. They have participated in activities like roller skating, picnics in the park, countryside walks, beach days and Tenpin bowling. Of course, their gatherings are not complete without the obligatory fast-food dinner!
One of the beautiful aspects of Mockingbird is the connections it fosters among the children. The camping adventure in Henfield was a big highlight for the All Stars. For some children, it was their first time camping. They enjoyed walks in the countryside, marshmallows by the fire pit, making new friends and building relationships.
What support is provided as part of the All Stars Mockingbird Constellation?
The constellation comes together in a positive and supportive way for each other. On two occasions when carers had to go into hospital at short notice, Viv and Dave – our Hub Home Carers, were able to offer sleepovers. This meant that the children were going to people who were familiar to them, rather than new respite carers.
As a group, the constellation enjoy training together – they were particularly fond of the Safer Internet training provided by Childnet and recently started the therapeutic parenting training. The monthly adult group is an opportunity for members to unload and share experiences, supporting each other with advice and different perspectives.
What do our carers think about the All Stars Mockingbird Constellation?
West Sussex experienced a first with the All Stars constellation, as they blend both kinship and fostering as one. One of our Foster Carers reflected on this, saying, “Being a Foster Carer, we know what a Special Guardianship Order (SGO) is, but from a Special Guardian’s side, we don’t really have much of a clue about the rules and regulations. It’s been interesting – a whole different world – but at the end of it we are all there for the children”. One of our Special Guardians said of the Foster Carers, “Realising that someone would actually sign up to do this for children who aren’t related to them is just amazing!”.
The constellation members have expressed their thoughts on the benefits of this unique support system, with one member stating, “We have better support, we get Hub Home Carer support and group support”. Another added, “I would say that we’ve had more opportunities than I would have had, and that’s been lovely”.
How often do the All Stars Mockingbird members meet?
The constellation adults meet formally once a month, as well as once a month as a group, including the children. However, they also meet up more informally for various activities in between these meetings.
The All Stars constellation is a shining example of how fostering, kinship and a strong support network can make a significant positive impact on children’s lives and the carers involved. Mockingbird is more than a support system; it’s an extended family. For anyone considering joining Mockingbird, the resounding message is clear: “Do it”. It’s an opportunity to gain new friends who truly understand your journey and to offer the care and love that every child deserves.