Couple who show they care

PUBLISHED: 11:03 25 March 2008 | UPDATED: 15:42 11 May 2010

Dawn and Peter Hind and their 17-month-old son Thomas

Dawn and Peter Hind and their 17-month-old son Thomas

DAWN and Peter Hind look forward to the days when Ryan comes to visit their home in Melbourn. The couple, who have nine children between them, aged between 17 months and 24, care for 10-year-old Ryan from Letchworth, who is disabled. Dawn, who first start

DAWN and Peter Hind look forward to the days when Ryan comes to visit their home in Melbourn.

The couple, who have nine children between them, aged between 17 months and 24, care for 10-year-old Ryan from Letchworth, who is disabled.

Dawn, who first started caring six years ago, said; "Ryan loves it here.

"We have two tractors in the yard which Ryan loves. He calls them big yellow and little yellow, and he loves the dogs.

"He goes out with Peter in the yard and Ryan thinks he's great. He gets to spend time with him on his own which he might not get to do at home with his dad.

"When we speak to him on the phone he always asks how the children are."

Dawn and Peter are two of Hertfordshire County Council's 130 shared carers who look after disabled children on a regular basis, anything from a few hours a week to one weekend a month.

However, there are 50 children still waiting to be placed with carers.

Dawn heard about the scheme while driving the school bus for disabled children.

She completed a year of voluntary caring before becoming an approved carer.

She said: "Ryan is entitled to 12 nights a year, and 192 hours of care.

"Parents are allocated the time, but that doesn't mean there will be anybody to look after their children because there is a lack of carers."

Dawn and Peter have been looking after Ryan for three years, but Dawn had a break from caring when she had son Thomas.

"I was meant to have a two-year break but it ended up being more like six months," she said.

"Ryan's mum was over the moon when I said I could take him back.

"We are going to stay in our caravan in Norfolk soon, and Ryan is coming for the Saturday-Monday.

"He's really looking forward to it. He may never have been on holiday so it's good for him."

Although Ryan is not severely disabled, Dawn and Peter have cared for other children with more difficulties.

Dawn said: "We cared for a young girl who couldn't talk and was epileptic.

"When that happens you can't do anything with them like read a story, they just have to fit in with your normal day.

"It is extremely hard work."

"I do try to arrange caring for them when there are things on like school fetes so I can take them.

"It gets them out of the house and some are from poor backgrounds, so it's nice for them."

County Councillor Jane Pitman, lead member for children's services, said: "Giving a little time, even for a short while makes a big difference.

"Parents get a rest from caring full time and it helps the child make new friends, gain independence, and widen their social circle.

"It would be wonderful if we could find enough shared care volunteers to make it possible for more families to benefit from this help."

Dawn, who takes part in fund-raising for Meldreth preschool, says: "Caring is doing something to help somebody, although Peter says I do too much of it sometimes.

"When I was young I needed the help of other people and don't know what I would have done without them.

"I like being there for these children and I still think about the other children I've looked after.

"Seeing Ryan's face when he comes through the door is fantastic, and it is also good for my children.

"They have been bought up with having others less fortunate around them and are aware of how lucky they are.

"It makes them better people for it and they all help out."

Anyone interested in becoming a shared carer who would like to find out more contact freephone 0800 9170925 or log on to the website www.hertsdirect.org/sharedcare

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