For six decades, Action for Children has been supporting vulnerable young people in Scotland and helping them to make the most of their lives.

Working with local authorities, the charity supports thousands of young people in projects across Scotland. But at the heart of its work are foster carers providing stable homes for young people.

Among them are husband and wife team Margaret and Maurice Surgeon who foster two girls at home, full-time.

Having brought up their own daughter, they realised they still had energy, wisdom and compassion that could benefit other young people.

Margaret explained: “It wasn’t a decision we took lightly and we spoke about it for a few years. When our daughter was 17 we decided it was a good time as we could offer a family life to someone who couldn’t live with their own family.”

Action for Children provides detailed training and the vast majority of their young people, up to 80 per cent, placed across the UK remain with the same carers for two years or more. This enables foster carers to build strong connections with young people, and this in part was what appealed to Margaret and Maurice about Action for Children.

They explained: “We really bought into Action for Children for the long term approach.

“Action for Children help to put plans and strategies in place to work with the young person to help them develop. We can see the benefits of the long term care.”

As a specialist fostering service, Action for Children help you build on skills you need to foster. However it does require patience, particularly in the early stages, as Maurice advised: “The key is not to focus on the behaviour. The first thing is to make sure the young person feels safe and this might take a while. Once they have the stability and the trust is in place then you start to work on the behaviours. When they begin to feel that it is their home and that they are not just a visitor you can start to see real progress.”

Foster parents are given extensive training and then matched carefully with their young people, and throughout they can call for support at any time of day or night. Buddies are set up with other foster carers and the carers receive financial support for the work they do. Carers are even given paid annual leave.

However, a key point to note for the Surgeons has been that they have gained themselves from the process. Margaret explained: “The experience is rewarding. Small things such as one of the girls joining a club or when they call the house ‘home’. It all adds up.”

Maurice added: “You get something out of it for yourself, it’s not financial, it’s being able to make a difference.”

Action for Children is currently looking for new foster carers to join the team. If you have a spare room and experience of working with or caring for young people then Action for Children will help you build on skills you need to foster. They recognise that just as young people are all different, so too are all foster carers. Although it may well take a while to make the decision, the first step of finding out more can be done easily today via the Action for Children website.