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Pioneering fostering project, the Mockingbird Programme, wins UK charity award

Tuesday 27 October 2020

The Mockingbird programme, run by the UK’s leading fostering charity, The Fostering Network, has recently won the Big Impact Award at this year’s Third Sector Awards.

Heath Farm and NFA London, part of the National Fostering Group, are proud to deliver the Mockingbird Family Model, which strengthens the stability of fostering placements and reinforces relationships between foster carers, young people, fostering services and birth families.

The extended family model provides a ‘hub’ carer, an experienced foster carer who is on hand to support a constellation of between 6-10 fostering families with sleepovers or short breaks, regular training, joint planning, advice and guidance, as well as organising social events.

The Mockingbird Family Model, with a supportive network at the very core, ensures all foster carers feel supported, confident and empowered in their fostering role, whilst working to build incredible futures for the children and young people and minimise any breakdowns with the ongoing support.

Darren Sharpe, Mockingbird Liaison Worker at Heath Farm Fostering Agency said: “The Mockingbird Family Model really brings together the very best things about our agency; carers and children being given a space to flourish. Daily I witness peer support, a can-do approach, kindness and plenty of fun and laughter.

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“The brilliance of Mockingbird is in its simplicity – all members of the family have an equal place for support and friendship. This is looking to lead to lifelong links, improved stability and better outcomes for everyone. The transition to new ways of ‘being-together’ during the pandemic is only possible due to the constant creativity and resourcefulness of our hub carers who are the lynchpin for the successes that we see but it is the involvement of every family that really makes the magic happen.”

Hub Carers also shared their feedback on the Mockingbird Programme:

“Having the privilege of being a Mockingbird Hub House, we have been able to help create an amazing community that supports carers, birth children and most importantly Looked after Children.  We are like an extended family and everyone helps each other, the best part of this experience is when we can all meet up together and we stand back and watch all the young people smile, laugh and relax as they know everyone and can actually be themselves.” – Lisa

“Mockingbird is such a supportive network, we know we are always there for one another without being judgemental.” – Linda

“Lockdown can be a very isolating time and being a new hub carer since August we were thrown in at the deep end but loving every aspect.  Being part of a constellation is like having an extended family for all of us and something as simple as a conversation via WhatsApp can instantly lift spirits and make you feel you’re not on your own.” – Wendy

“It is a support network which helps both carers and young people make meaningful connections. Informal meetings and events, pre COVID, gave us the opportunity to talk openly and for young people to interact with other young people who understand their situation. Carers get together and can offer practical help and support without even realising.” – Christine

Head of the Mockingbird programme, Lily Stevens, said: “We are delighted to have won in this category, it is testament to the faith of our funders and partners in a compassionate, sustainable, new way of delivering foster care. It is also speaks volumes about the efforts of everyone involved in the programme.”

The Mockingbird programme, which delivers the Mockingbird Family Model originally developed by The Mockingbird Society in America in 2004, is run by the UK’s leading fostering charity, The Fostering Network, and part-funded by the Department for Education. The programme now comprises 39 partners and 61 constellations across Great Britain.

You can read more about our partnership and the Mockingbird Programme here.


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