Pioneering Fostering Programme Goes from Strength to Strength

Posted by: Press team on 26 January 2022 10:41

Children and young people in foster care in South Tyneside are benefiting hugely from an award-winning and sustainable foster care model.

South Tyneside Council introduced the Mockingbird model, which is delivered by leading fostering charity The Fostering Network, last September and since then it has gone from strength to strength.

The model sees a constellation of fostering households set up in a similar structure to that of an extended family, structured around the support and relationships that provides.

The first constellation in South Tyneside is led by a hub home foster carer who offers vital peer support and guidance alongside social activities and sleepovers to strengthen relationships and permanence.

Thanks to the community support Mockingbird provides, 14 children in South Tyneside have been provided with secure and stable families, and the breakdown of relationships has been avoided, meaning more of the Borough's children can grow up with the stability they deserve.

The Mockingbird programme is both beneficial to children and young people as well as foster carers who are supported to be able to provide the best possible care to their young people; but it is also a cost-effective, sustainable model of foster care, with more capacity to care for children than other existing fostering models. As such, it is helping the Council deliver on its priority of supporting young people in need

Civil servant Richard Rattenbury and his wife Becky Hawdon were the first people to take on the role of hub carers in South Tyneside.

Richard said: "I think the real advantage of the Mockingbird model is the support we are able to give other foster carers. As a foster carer, it's always good to have other people around who truly understand what you are experiencing. By being hub carers, we can provide a listening ear to both carers and children, almost as an extended family.

"The more positive relationships foster children have, the better their life chances. And the more support foster carers have, the better the chances of successful placements and of keeping siblings together so it's a win-win all round."

Councillor Adam Ellison, Lead Member for Children, Young People and Families, said: "'Here in South Tyneside the Mockingbird programme has been a game changer, both for our children and our foster carers. We're so pleased with what our first constellation has achieved that we are now planning our second.  

'Our Mockingbird foster carers feel supported and we are seeing an increase in the retention of foster carers because of it. If you are interested in becoming a foster carer with us, please get in touch. We welcome people from all backgrounds, of all different ages, genders, ethnicities, no matter your relationship status or sexual orientation, so if you think you can make a difference to children's lives please get in touch."

To find out more about fostering, visit or contact the fostering service on 0191 423 8500 or email

Last modified: 18 March 2022 10:42