Home for good
By Adrian Hawkes, Special to ASSIST News Service
LONDON, UK (ANS – April 2, 2017) — Cornerstone is one of a kind. It is a North Eastern UK company that has established a foster care and adoption agency, but is fearlessly maintaining the ethos of a Christian Foster Care Agency.
Cornerstone (http://www.cornerstonenortheast.co.uk/) was launched in 1999 to recruit foster carers that would provide loving and stable homes for sibling groups. CARE, the well-known charity and lobby group, took over from 2002 until April 2006 when Cornerstone became a charity in its own right. Thereafter Care relinquished it to the new charity.
The company specializes in trying to create long term fostering arrangements, believing that stability in the family is incredibly important. To date 80% of the cornerstone foster carers have gone on to adopt the children that they were fostering.
Pam Birtle, the Register Manager of Cornerstone, said, “Nobody is doing what we are doing. We are stopping children in the care system moving from home to home. We try hard to take them forward to that adoption stage. We see the foster parents as a potential permanent home and family. Our phrase is it’s a forever family.”
Cornerstone also has a policy of giving ongoing support to the children who have gone from fostering to adoption. There is some government funding for this. However, when that funding runs out, what then?
So, I asked Pam Birtle, what happens when the funding expires? Her answer was short; “We support them.”
Pam went on to say that in Cornerstone the disruption rate is very low. That means that children tend to stay in the placement adopted or just long-term fostered. This, Pam would say, has helped the agency to see its children going on to succeed in life, achieve good educational qualifications and some of them into university. Pam told me that she and the whole cornerstone family are proud of their children. Loving homes, stable home and permanency works.
Pam’s own story is interesting in that she herself was a child in care, and had an unplanned pregnancy at the age of 14. Her son was adopted, and Pam says she wanted to give others the opportunity to take children, like a Christian Family had done with her adopted son. Pam in later life has been reunited with her son and says the whole thing for her and him is now very positive.
Cornerstone has faced quite a few legal challenges, particularly in terms of UK legislation with regards to sexual orientation. Pam would say that Cornerstone was not trying to discriminate against anyone, rather it was trying to positively discriminate in support of Christians who wanted to both foster and adopt.
The Christian’s Institute’s legal team have been supporting the agency both financially and legally, facing up to the many challenges that the new legislation has given rise too. She says, “Without their input, we would have had to close down”. The Institute’s legal team were, however, able to navigate through the legislation, and so Cornerstone’s doors are still open. They are assessing Christian families and placing children in “forever families.”
Note: I would like to thank Keith Lannon for editing this piece.
Photo captions: 1) A British foster family. 2) Pam Birtle, the Register Manager of Cornerstone explains Christian Fostering on Premier Christian Radio. 3) A child looking at Cornerstone advertising. 4) Adrian and Pauline Hawkes.
About the writer: Adrian Hawkes is married to Pauline — Dan Wooding was best man at their wedding — and they have three children, 10 grandchildren and two great grandchildren. He is still part of the Rainbow Church north London which he used to lead and he also works with Sri Lankan churches in France, Switzerland, Norway, Canada and Sri Lanka. He helped to form Phoenix Community Care Ltd, which looks after some 30+ unaccompanied minors, and vulnerable adults in housing in North London; alongside his wife Pauline, he established PCC Foster Care agency and has launched London Training Consortium Ltd., which trains refugees and asylum seekers with ESOL, IT, and Literacy. He has also written various books, the latest of which is Perspectives — The Alphabet of Life. He can be contacted by e-mail at: email@example.com.
** You may republish this or any of our ANS stories with attribution to the ASSIST News Service (www.assistnews.net). Please also tell your friends that they can receive a complimentary subscription to our news service by going to the above website and signing up there.