CHRISTMAS OFFER Subscribe to Devon Life today CLICK HERE

Devon Life talks to Caroline Quentin about Families for Children

PUBLISHED: 00:16 24 November 2011 | UPDATED: 20:20 20 February 2013

On location in Cornwall

On location in Cornwall

Caroline Quentin explains to Harriet Mellor why the work of a voluntary adoption agency in Buckfastleigh is close to her heart.

Caroline Quentin explains to Harriet Mellor why the work of a voluntary adoption agency in Buckfastleigh is close to her heart.

Adoption is frequently in the headlines at the moment and not always in a positive way. With such a focus on the obstacles and restrictive red tape, theres a real danger of putting prospective parents off.
Families for Children is a voluntary adoption agency based in Buckfastleigh which match UK-wide kids with forever families in and around Devon and the South West. Operating on a smaller, more individual and less confined scale allows them to focus on the real issue - that there are 64,000 children in the UK care system who are in urgent need of a permanent home.
Fortunately for Families for Children they have the support of actress and television presenter Caroline Quentin who proves an extremely passionate patron to help get that message across:
Anyone who has ever loved a child must be able to imagine what its like growing up without having anyone devoted to you. We all know how tough family life is and how it has its ups and downs, but surely thats got to be better than staying in a childrens home.
Families for Children place what are termed by Local Authorities as harder to place children. They tend to be older (over threes), sibling groups, of mixed heritage or with a disability. On the parenting side, love, stability and nurture take precedence over the usual adoption no-nos. The agency has no discrimination against the over 40s, single parents, religion, ethnic background or sexual gender. You dont even have to own your home. Its a system that Caroline is in complete admiration of:
Families for Children make no judgement and some of the children are what youd call harder to place but once theyve found the right slot in a family its a win-win.
The win-win shes referring to is the success rate Families for Children has in producing happy units. Their support starts pre-adoption, throughout all stages of family life extending into the adoptees adulthood and contact with birth parents should they want it.
Its incredible, the whole nature of the charity and the detailed care it gives people is a really wonderful and modern take on adoption. The Support system is unending and thats extraordinary.
I have (birth) children of my own but I have friends who were adopted and friends who have adopted and so Ive known it from different angles. If you like people and like children, the idea of any child not being in a family environment just seems so ludicrous.
She came on board, adding to the charitys fellow Devon patrons Judi Spiers and adopted celebrity chef Michael Caines, after meeting Families for Children fundraising co-ordinator, Alison Colton on an evening out.
I met Alison at the Castle in Exeter and we were out having fun. The next day she texted and asked if Id be involved. That was two years ago. I launched and voiced their appeal DVD and try and go to as many functions as possible. Sometimes having someone with a bit of a public profile can help and I also try if I can to give a bit of personal support to the parents.
Caroline, who lives near Tiverton with husband Sam Farmer and their children Emily, 12, and William, 8 plus numerous dogs, cats, chickens, sheep and the odd pig, was also drawn to Families for Children because it was based locally.
My links, heart and family are with this part of the world. We moved on an absolute whim. I was living in Suffolk at the time and my husband turned to me and said: If I dont see a hill soon, Im going to absolutely go out of my mind. I said: OK, wed better move. We are now in our eighth year and Im not going anywhere else.
Ive found it a very non-intrusive and accepting place. Ive made so many friends. The people are very easy going and non-judgemental, which I think is extraordinary.
Caroline is in massive demand and hasnt as much time at home as shed like at the moment. Just this year shes filmed Caroline Quentin on Cornwall, which is showing on ITV in the New Year, another series of Restoration Home and the autumn on the London stage, performing six days a week, plus matines in a play called Terrible Advice.
So Sam has been holding the fort. Long out of the TV world, he is currently working on a unisex teenage skincare range launching in 2012, and the couples joint business buying and renovating properties: Twelve in ten years.
After so much activity, this Christmas will be extra special. I just want to hunker down at home with my family and not move an inch.

The Sibling Adopters

Claire and Julian Mildren live in South Devon with brother and sisters Toyah 13, Britney 11 and Kane 10.

Both of us come from big families who are all part of each others lives. We knew our three were living together and got on together they were already a family unit. Anybody going from nothing to three children would find it hard work as you are bonding and disciplining at the same time. Im a GP and I took seven months off, and Julian wound his business down so we were both at home. We got lots of support from Families for Children and other adoptive families we met throughout the assessment process.
The kids began their life very under-stimulated and then they were put into care for two years. Britney (then 3) could only say two words. From day one they called us Mum and Dad and instantly began to blossom.
They are fantastic kids and we really cant imagine being happier had we had birth children.

The Single Parent

Rosina Kellman has adopted twice through Families for Children. First with Shah, now 13, and subsequently with Tiannah, 7. They live in Chagford.

I was married when we adopted Shah at the age of three. Subsequently we separated and are now divorced. I never wanted Shah to be an only child so adopting as a single parent was the start of another journey with them.
Tiannah came to me when she was 4, just over two years ago and now we feel very much like a normal family, but its taken a lot of support. Being a working single parent, I took adoption leave and got the equivalent of Maternity Pay and negotiated a six-month mortgage holiday. One of the questions is about bringing up mixed-race children in a predominantly white area. Fortunately Devon is becoming more global and its about not denying where child is from (both kids know the names of their birth parents and have photos). Its about being aware of any issues and how you would support them.

Can you help?
Families for Children dont just need prospective parents. Readers can help by providing much-needed donations. 300,000 a year has to be raised specifically to be able to provide their post-adoption support services.

Caroline Quentin says:
If theres anything anyone can do for the charity, they can pat themselves on the back and say I have helped a child into a loving family where they will not only have the support of a loving family but that of Families for Children forever!

01364 645480,


More from People

Friday, December 7, 2018

Devon Life received this heartfelt letter from Mr Michael Thompson, of Torbay, which is felt particularly poignant to share with our website audience at this time of year

Read more
Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Bursting with festive inspiration, KATE WILLIAMS seeks out the best presents for a perfect Devon Christmas

Read more
Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Devon has had more than its fair share of high achievers over the years but how well do you know our county’s singers, authors, sportspeople, explorers and TV personalities? This is an edited version of a quiz compiled by MARGARET BRECKNELL in the December 2018 issue of Devon Life

Read more
Tuesday, November 27, 2018

PHILIP DALLING recalls two Exmoor legends who shared a deep love of the moor and its natural resources, and gained national fame through the media

Read more
Tuesday, November 20, 2018

In the month when we mark the 100th anniversary of the end of the First World War, STEVE ROBERTS highlights the terrible cost in human lives it inflicted on the county of Devon

Read more
Friday, November 16, 2018

Actor Tom Burke talks to JUDI SPIERS about his production of Don Carlos staged by his own theatre company Ara, in association with Exeter’s Northcott Theatre

Read more
Wednesday, November 14, 2018

In the latest in her series throughout 2018 profiling inspirational women, KATE HASKELL talks to England Women’s Cricket Captain, Heather Knight

Read more
Friday, October 26, 2018

There is more to Georgia Toffolo than an award-winning TV show, as HOLLY EELLS discovers

Read more
Friday, October 26, 2018

Striving to be the best in the world, homegrown Devon professional squash player Lyell Fuller is seeking sponsorship to help reach his goal. KATE WILLAMS finds out more

Read more
Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Tavistock Rugby Club in Devon is celebrating after being awarded a grant of £2,500 to fund private showers for referees at their Sandy Park ground, as part of rural energy provider Calor’s annual funding scheme

Read more
Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Devon’s Wilfred Emmanuel-Jones, also known as The Black Farmer, tells KATE WILLIAMS about his new book, Jeopardy, encouraging the embracing of risk to enrich life

Read more
Tuesday, October 2, 2018

As five members of Dartmoor Search and Rescue Ashburton celebrate 125 years of collective volunteering, we look back on their time with the organisation

Read more
Tuesday, September 25, 2018

CAROLYN SEAGER reveals how long after her mother’s death she discovered her amazing career in the service of her country

Read more
Tuesday, September 18, 2018

An author known for her novels depicting life on the Channel Islands is nonetheless happiest writing from home here in Devon

Read more

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy

Topics of Interest

Food and Drink Directory

Subscribe or buy a mag today

subscription ad

Local Business Directory

Property Search