An innovative programme offering a network of extra support to foster carers has just celebrated the end of its first year.

Mockingbird Programme, which is offered by less than 20 organisations nationwide, was rolled out by Slough Children’s Services Trust last September. It works by building a supportive community around foster carers, effectively replicating an extended family.

Six foster families make up Slough Children’s Services Trust’s Mockingbird group led by Sam and Des Cox who are the central hub home carers for the programme. The group got together last Wednesday at Arbour Park in Slough to celebrate its first milestone with some pizza, cake and games.

Sam said: “The foster carers and children have all bonded so well. We’ve not only overcome challenges together, we’ve had some truly great times, just like any family. It’s a real pleasure to be leading this."

Karen Lawton is also part of the programme, along with her two foster children:

She said: “Sam and Des have provided practical help and support at all times of the day and night to our family and a non-judgemental listening ear and sound advice for myself. The children love visiting Sam and Des’ for a sleepover. We’ve done some lovely things as a group such as climbing and bowling and we all really look forward to meeting up.”

The model was originally developed by The Mockingbird Society in the United States but has since been introduced to the UK by The Fostering Network, the UK’s leading fostering charity.

Saima Arif, who is the Independent Fostering Agency (IFA) service manager for Slough Children’s Services Trust said: "Thanks to Sam and Des for being such inspirational home hub carers. Anyone interested in fostering might be interested to know that we offer a range of support including full training, generous allowances, an out-of-hours service and social events. Please do get in touch if you’d like to know more, there’s a real need right now in Slough.”

To find out more about Mockingbird Programme, or fostering in general, visit Slough Children’s Services Trust’s website at, or contact their fostering team by phoning 0800 0730291 or by emailing