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Southport and  Mersey Reporter -  Your free online newspaper service covering the Merseyside region - (Greater Liverpool).
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Issue:- 19/20 May 2010


MERSEYSIDE is to benefit from a further £465,000 of Government funding to continue cycle training in schools. The cash boost was awarded after the region demonstrated a strong commitment to delivering cycling initiatives in recent years and means that Merseyside will continue to be home to the biggest cycle training scheme in the country.

The new funding - provided by Cycling England under its flagship Bikeability training scheme - means that schools across the region will be able to offer cycle training to a further 11,640 pupils in years 5 and 6 this year. The scheme, which is also supported by funding from the Merseyside Transport Partnership (MTP), has trained 38,000 pupils since it launched in Merseyside in 2006.  The initiative, run by the MTP’s TravelWise campaign, will see children given the chance to take part in training sessions to suit their ability, starting with basic cycling and balancing skills and progressing to on-road training.

Research into the long term effects of cycle training programmes for young people and adults, commissioned by the MTP last year, showed that nine in every ten children who have completed the course now cycle at least once a week in their spare time, and – according to parents and guardians – the children are also safer and better able to deal with roads and other hazards.

Jane Moore, TravelWise Officer, is pleased that the full level of funding has been secured to enable cycle training schemes to be continued this year. She said:- “These courses give a real boost to cycling in the region and, as our research showed, providing cycle training to school pupils increases skills and confidence and in turn leads to many becoming regular cyclists.  Cycling is both a healthy and environmentally-friendly way to travel, as well as a fun way to get around. Cycle training schemes are essential if we want to encourage more people to get out on their bike in the future. Cycling can help create a healthy, low carbon city for the future. TravelWise and its partner organisations are working hard to promote cycling in Merseyside, resulting in real and tangible benefits for the city region.  In addition to cycle training schemes, TravelWise will also be running a number of led bike rides during the summer. These rides will let children put the skills learnt during their cycle training sessions to the test and get the whole family out on their bikes together. Our research showed 73% of parents thought that cycle training had improved their child’s enjoyment of cycling and more than half reported that the sessions had encouraged other members of the family to get on their bikes.”

For more information on cycling in Merseyside, please visit:- or call on:- 0151 330 1290.


CHILDREN'S charity Barnardo’s is running an urgent recruitment drive for foster carers in the North West, because of a chronic shortage of people willing to offer children a safe and nurturing home.  During Foster Care Fortnight (17 May 2010 to 30 May 2010), the charity’s North West Director, Mark Lee, is calling on people in the region to consider helping children who are being left in care for years because there are not enough people to foster or adopt them.

Applications for children to be taken into care have been on the rise, however there is a national shortage of 10,000 foster carers, leaving children in care paying the price. Mark Lee explains:- “The huge shortfall of foster carers at a time when there is an increase in referrals of children amounts to a crisis, and it is more crucial than ever to ensure that stable and secure foster placements are available.”

A YouGov poll commissioned by Barnardo’s earlier this year found that 78% of people in the North West have never considered fostering. 21% of those who had considered it had not taken any further steps towards becoming a foster carer. When asked what would most encourage them to foster, North West respondents mostly said:- "control over what type of children would be matched with them."

Foster carers come from all walks of life and you don’t have to come from a childcare profession to foster children. Amanda Hurst, a foster carer for Barnardo’s North West, says:- “It definitely helps if you’ve had experience with children, but I think the main qualities you need are patience and simply to care.”

Barnardo’s guides foster carers through a detailed matching process and provides on going support. The charity also runs a series of parenting courses aimed at preparing foster carers for the process and equipping them with the skills to deal with children with a range of needs.   Amanda says:- “You get so much more support than you would with your own children as Barnardo’s staff are always on the end of the phone and more than willing to help you out.”

A pioneer of modern day fostering, Barnardo’s first placed children in family settings more than one hundred years ago. The charity is urgently calling for foster carers who will look after children for either short breaks of just a few weeks, a number of years, or until they reach adulthood.  Foster carers receive a weekly professional fee to carry out their role, as well as the costs of caring for each child.  Mark adds:- “We are particularly keen to hear from people who might be able to look after children and young people with physical or learning disabilities and sibling groups, as these are the ones who we tend to find hardest to place.”

Barnardo’s does not exclude anyone on the grounds of marital status, gender, sexual orientation, disability, ethnicity or employment status. There is no upper age limit to becoming a foster carer and the minimum age is 21.

Working as part of a professional team, Barnardo’s foster carers receive:-

► On-going relevant/specialist training
► 24-hour advice and back-up
► Regular supervision from our friendly team
► Careful and considered matching with a child
► The opportunity to lead the way in setting the highest standards for children and young people in foster care

For an informal chat with the friendly Barnardo’s North West Fostering team or to get your questions answered, please call:- 0151 488 0822 or visit:-

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