AFTER nearly a decade of opening her home to island young people, foster carer Alice Downie has retired.
Twenty-two children have been cared for by Alice during her nine year foster career in the Western Isles – and countless others have found her home a safe haven when emergency care was required.
“The most important thing when we have people like Alice is that it means children don’t have to leave the island to be placed in mainland residential units,” said Comhairle Family Placement Team member Fiona Miller.
“We’re all sad to see Alice go as foster carers on the islands are in short supply and Alice will leave a big gap in our service.
“She’s always been able to help us out and especially when we needed emergency care.”
For Alice, who also fostered while living on the mainland, it’s the end of an era – but one she looks back on with a smile.
“There have been a few which I’ve bonded with who come back to visit me. I’ve two that are now in Uni and another who comes to visit now with her baby,” she said.
“When you see how they turn their lives around it’s the greatest feeling, the successes outweigh the failures, and I’m going to miss it.”
Cllr Catriona Stewart, Chair of Education and Children’s Service at the Comhairle, commented: “I was a member of the Children’s Panel before I was a councillor and I saw first hand the difference foster carers make in the lives of children who come from chaotic homes.
“Foster carers like Alice have a profound influence and give children something positive which they can take away and put into their own lives.
“It is important we recognise the commitment our foster carers put into the positive development of these children.”