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Portsmouth's mockingbird model celebrated on Foster Care Fortnight 2024

Callum Murphy

Senior Campaign and Events Officer


10 May 2024

An innovative model that supports foster carers has been hailed a success on Foster Care Fortnight 2024. The mockingbird programme was launched in 2021 with the aim of bringing foster families together by developing new support networks in their community.

This unique model works by creating a 'constellation' of up to 10 satellite fostering households. This approach offers the relations and support that are similar to an extended family.

At the heart of each ‘constellation’ is a ‘hub home’ where a specially recruited and trained hub home foster carer offers vital peer support and guidance to all the carers within the constellation, in addition to respite care in the form of sleepovers and social activities. This has strengthened relationships and permanence.

Mark Jowett, head of service for children we care for at Portsmouth City Council said: "Foster Care Fortnight is an important date in the social work calendar as it gives us a chance to recognise foster carers and the children they support. We also want to celebrate Portsmouth's mockingbird programme that celebrates its third birthday this year.

"Since its introduction, we have engaged with foster families in different ways, creating vital support networks that have contributed to stronger communities. Our team of social workers support hub home foster carers across five areas in the city."

Portsmouth City Council first introduced the mockingbird model three years ago. Aly and Lee have been fostering for ten years locally and co-ordinate the original hub home.

Aly said:

“We know from experience that it can take a while to build friendships with other carers. Through mockingbird and the community that’s created, you’re instantly involved with a small group of people who are experiencing the same challenges and victories as you".

Lee added:

“We’ve been fostering for so long so you forget how you felt at the beginning of the process and how useful it is to speak to other carers and families. Having someone you can ask questions to, whether it’s about the process, how to prepare for the children and young people coming into your care or ideas of things to do, we’ve never felt so much support before.”

Across the country, the Mockingbird programme has already been shown to help families support each other and overcome challenges, while also showing significant benefits to the lives of children and young people in care.

Portsmouth City Council is the first local authority on the south coast to implement the Mockingbird family model.

Sam Bushby, deputy director, children and families at Portsmouth City Council said:

"Foster Care Fortnight gives us an opportunity to celebrate and reflect on the successes of the mockingbird model and the team members who support families. Since we launched the programme three years ago, our foster carer community is stronger than ever.

"We're proud to be a trailblazer for the programme in the south. The model has improved permanence and outcomes for children and young people as well as developed a dedicated foster carer community who support one another within each constellation."

Learn more about the mockingbird programme

This Foster Care Fortnight, we're shining a light on Portsmouth's mockingbird programme, showcasing the team behind the model who support children, young people and foster families.

Find out more