I had a very happy childhood and that is mainly down to the wonderful parents who adopted me as a baby.
My life could have been very different, but thanks to Eric and Penny I was offered opportunities in life that I might not otherwise have experienced.
That is why National Adoption Week, which started on Monday, is an awareness event close to my heart.
This year it aims to educate and inform people on the process you will need to go through if you choose to adopt a child.
Across Torbay, Devon, Plymouth and Somerset, there are 67 children waiting for their forever homes.
Of these, 25 are in sibling groups, five children are from a mixed heritage and three have a disability, like me.
Adoption can be a rewarding way of making a difference to a child and could transform their life.
So, if you’ve ever considered adoption, please think about having that first conversation - you have nothing to lose, but a child waiting for their forever family may have a lot to gain.
Adopt South West, our regional adoption agency, runs virtual information sessions every month.
If you are interested in finding out more, visit www.adoptsouthwest.org.uk
Our social workers also play a huge role in supporting children and young people in Torbay.
As a local authority we are corporate parents and have a moral responsibility to do all we can to give our cared-for children the support and opportunities that every child deserves.
However, there is a national shortage of social workers and high demand for their services.
In Torbay, we have the extra challenge of living in a coastal area and geographically being at one end of the country and so suffering from the end-of-the-line syndrome.
That is why the council is investing in skilling up new social workers through its in-house learning academy.
We have recently welcomed 16 newly qualified social workers onto the three-year programme and they are now being professionally supported to develop the expertise and confidence to become advanced practitioners.
Developing and training our own social workers is just one of the many ways we are making significant changes to sustain improvements in our children’s services.
It’s heartening to see that this effort has been recognised and we have been shortlisted as a finalist in the children’s services category of the Local Government Chronicle Awards 2021.
It’s not just children that need cherishing - our heritage does too.
That is why we want to secure Torre Abbey’s long-term future.
This week, the council Cabinet is discussing creating an independent development foundation to unlock other opportunities and draw in more funding which the council can’t tap into.
There are no longer bags of cash for capital projects and since the start of the global pandemic, grant funding has become even more competitive.
By setting up the development trust, Torre Abbey would have charitable status and would be able to drive through positive investment.
If the proposals are agreed, this historic asset will stay in the council’s ownership but Torre Abbey would become more financially sustainable.
We will work closely with partners such as the Friends of Torre Abbey group, who have provided amazing support over the years, to make the very best of our historic jewel in the crown.
Local community groups and volunteers, like the Friends of Torre Abbey, make a big difference in lots of areas across Torbay.
That effort has been recognised in the Britain in Bloom competition and It’s Your Neighbourhood Awards 2021 with Torbay scooping a lot of them.
Congratulations to all the winners for their excellent effort and to all those who have entered the competitions.
We are proud of the hard work that local volunteers have put into making the Bay look beautiful and also the support given by the staff of SWISCo and Groundwork South.
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