Published on Monday 24 February, 2020
Where is the love? And where do you look when you need caring, compassionate and empathetic people? For foster care provider Lifestyle Solutions, the answer has been clear for some time – the LGBTQI community.
Fiercely proud of its own LGBTQI people and clients, the national not-for-profit has announced its major sponsorship of the Star Observer’s float in this year’s Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras.
Themed around Climate Change and the Future of our Children, the float also provides an opportunity for some of the organisations Rainbow Families to achieve their lifelong dream of marching in Mardi Gras.
Servena McIntyre, Executive Leader, Lifestyle Solutions, said the organisation was thrilled to offer these opportunities, to be involved with the event and to march with the LGBTQI community.
“At Lifestyle Solutions we champion diversity - it’s a big part of who we are. We see everyone as equal and we seek to work with people and communities to help them realise their dreams,” she said. “This sponsorship is part of that journey.”
“We see the wonderful people in the LGBTQI community who want to share their lives and create bright futures for children who, for many reasons, aren’t always able to live with their family. We know this is a community full of wonderful people with the right attributes to be fantastic Foster Carers, and we want to help make this a reality for them,” she said.
Lawrence Gibbons, Publisher of the Star Observer, said it was important the iconic Gay and Lesbian publication partnered with an organisation committed to the LGBTQI community for the right reasons.
“For forty years the Star Observer has been the leading LGBTQI voice. We are really honoured and excited to be producing this year’s float with Lifestyle Solutions and delivering the message that inclusivity involves future generations and their wellbeing.”
Sydney-siders Patrick and David have brought that wellbeing to three young sisters unable to live with their family. Fostering with Lifestyle Solutions for almost five years, the couple have given and found love in abundance.
“When David and I decided we wanted to start a family together, we thought what better way to give back to the community than to take in children that were in desperate need of a loving and caring home.”
“When our girls came along, we had to replan our lives, but we wouldn’t change a thing,” said Patrick.
Patrick and David began their fostering journey by providing short-term care to two children until they were restored back to extended members of their birth families.
“We heard about Lifestyle Solutions through close friends of ours who have been fostering four children with the organisation for over ten years,” said Patrick.
Feeling more confident as carers, they then began fostering two-month old, Olivia*, in a long-term placement.
“Olivia had two older sisters who we’d occasionally meet when having contact with her birth family. There came a time when her two older sisters were also in need of care, so David and I made the decision to reunite the siblings and foster all three,” said Patrick.
It was a decision that transformed Patrick and David’s lives and they’re now starting the process of applying for guardianship of the three sisters.
Lifestyle Solutions NSW State leader, Liz Knight, said short term and respite fostering was an excellent way for people to experience fostering while having a positive impact.
“It only takes one significant adult to make a meaningful difference in the life of a child or a young person in need. Even if that person is only in the child’s life during holidays or weekends, it can be life changing for everyone involved. We want kids in foster care to enjoy the same love and opportunities that kids who are not in foster care enjoy.”
“We see that the LGBTQI community has many people wanting to open their hearts and homes to children. We also see it’s a community of people whose own journeys have not necessarily been easy - yet look at the resilience and vibrancy and strength. We know this community can give children amazing opportunities.”
Lifestyle Solutions’ Foster Carers come from a broad range of backgrounds. Carers can be male and female couples or same sex couples. They can be single people with or without their own children, young or old, working or not working, and come from diverse cultural backgrounds.
Foster Carers working with Lifestyle Solutions receive comprehensive training, a dedicated carer services officer, case manager and clinician support to provide professional and practical assistance, 24/7 on-call support for emergency situations, peer support, and contact with other carers in your area. Foster Carers also receive a non-taxable foster care allowance that varies according to the type of care provided and the child’s individual needs.
The Lifestyle Solutions Star Observer float is number 38 in this year’s bumper 188 float parade and will be one of the first to spread the love along Oxford Street on Saturday night.
*name changed for privacy purposes