PEOPLE in Bolton are being asked to think about offering homes to vulnerable children and young people as demand has risen significantly during the pandemic.

Foster Care Fortnight, a two-week campaign which raises the profile of fostering, was launched last week and runs until Sunday, May 23.

A report commissioned by Safehouses Fostering – an independent fostering organisation – revealed there is a distinct lack of awareness around the number of children entering the care system.

Only one percent of people in the north west had an accurate grasp on the number of children being referred to social services.

More than 8,500 foster carers are needed nationally and the number of looked after children and young people has increased significantly since the start of the pandemic.

Martin Leitch, head of fostering operations at Safehouses Fostering, part of Five Rivers Child Care, which operates in Bolton, said: “Children being taken into care is a sensitive and complex issue and something that people, generally, don’t want to think about.

"On average, over 1,000 children are referred to social services each week in England alone.

"Research has revealed that there has been a dramatic increase in referrals to social services since the start of the pandemic, and we are certain that it will continue to rise as it has done over the last several years.

“Today there is national shortage of more than 8,500 foster carers.

"This makes finding safe places for children to live extremely challenging.

"With the added post pandemic pressures, we are extremely concerned about whether there will be enough safe homes for vulnerable children in the greatest need.

“We are in desperate need of more foster families in Bolton to care for children either on a temporary or permanent basis.

"If you’re a kind, compassionate person interested in fostering, do something different this year and get in touch to find out more.

"Fostering comes in many forms and can be tailored towards the needs and lifestyle of foster parent, or parents, and those in their care.

"Foster carers can work flexibly as respite or short-term foster carers, or they can have foster children and young people living with them long-term, meaning they would remain in care until they feel ready to live independently."

There are many misconceptions around who can become a foster carer.

Safehouses Fostering’s report highlighted that more than 60 percent of people across the north west are not aware those living in rented accommodation can foster – a serious misconception that could be hindering foster carer recruitment in Bolton.

But people from all walks of life can be considered to become foster carers as long as they are over 21 years of age and have the key qualities needed to look after children in care.

This includes single people, cohabiting couples, same sex couples and people living in rented accommodation.

There must be a spare room for each foster child.

For more contact Safehouses Fostering on 0161 8257197, email or visit