Members of the LGBTQ+ community are being urged to become foster carers, with a new campaign launched this week.

Hertfordshire County Council says it has launched the campaign - Foster with Pride - to help recruit foster carers from the LGBTQ+ community, and to help dispel the myth that members of the LGBTQ+ community cannot foster, after a poll by the council found 25 per cent of people believe this is the case.

Jack Doyle and Andy Windebank, from Stevenage, have been fostering with Hertfordshire County Council for five years and are currently looking after a sibling group.

The couple say fostering has "changed [their] lives for the better", and are urging others to take their lead and apply to foster.

"You wake up and you have children there smiling at you, needing your love and care," they said. "For us, it’s been the best thing we’ve ever done."

The couple also give support to others who foster, by being hub carers in a fostering support network.

The council is calling on residents from the LGBTQ+ community to apply to foster, or simply find out more about fostering.

Rona Howard, from Hemel Hempstead, is a transgender foster carer who has been fostering with Hertfordshire County Council for 24 years.

Rona, who is currently offering supported lodgings to a care leaver, said: "I was quite apprehensive of becoming a foster carer, but I was accepted with open arms. It was really lovely. There were no barriers.

"Every foster carer gets support. Everyone’s treated equally. There’s no stigma. It’s fantastic." 

The Comet: Rona has been fostering with Hertfordshire County Council for 24 years.Rona has been fostering with Hertfordshire County Council for 24 years. (Image: Hertfordshire County Council)

Rona, who is now 73, transitioned when she was 50. She said: "With the young people, when I first transitioned, I was always very scared and nervous that they would not accept me, but things have changed over the years.

"Fostering gives me a purpose in life. The young people make my life fulfilled."

The council currently has 1,000 children in care in Hertfordshire and is "desperately short of foster carers", a spokesperson for the local authority said.

Nationally, there is a severe shortage of foster carers from the LGBTQ+ community, and out of 350 fostering households in Hertfordshire, only 10 of them of them are from the LGBTQ+ community.

Foster carers with Hertfordshire County Council receive pay and allowances, as well as training and support.

Councillor Fiona Thomson, the council’s Cabinet member for children, young people and families, said: "We would like members of the LGBTQ+ community to know that we wholeheartedly welcome their applications to become foster carers.

"We consider applications from anyone able to offer our children a loving and supportive home, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity.

"We pride ourselves on the support we offer to all our foster carers.

"We’ll be on hand to support you every step of the way, and we have other fostering households from the LGBTQ+ community who will also be able to offer help and advice."

 If you are aged over 21, have a spare room, and want to find out more, visit, text FOSTERING to 62277 or ring 0800 917 0925.