Foster couple in Scarborough host dinner early to keep joy of Christmas alive

A foster couple from North Yorkshire have spoken of the bond with one of the children they cared for spanning more than 20 years which has culminated in them spending every Christmas together since he was eight years old.
Paul and Alison Blacker have spent every Christmas together with Dominic for the past two decades.Paul and Alison Blacker have spent every Christmas together with Dominic for the past two decades.
Paul and Alison Blacker have spent every Christmas together with Dominic for the past two decades.

Paul Blacker, from Scarborough, started fostering in 2001 and opened his home to Dominic. The youngster was still living with Mr Blacker when the 56-year-old met his future wife, Alison, through their work in children’s homes.

The couple married and together they have looked after more than 40 children throughout the years as part of North Yorkshire Council’s fostering service – Fostering North Yorkshire.

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Their close bond with Dominic has seen them spend every Christmas together, but he now works as a human resources business partner in London and lives in Stockton with his girlfriend, Katie.

To ensure that they could still mark the festive season together this year, an early Christmas celebration has been organised so that they can enjoy a meal in each other’s company.

Dominic said: “My story wouldn’t be the same without Paul and Alison, they gave me a great foundation to build on. They took a risk taking me on as they had their own children, and I wasn’t easy. It just shows that the right carers remove barriers and unlock potential.

“Some of my foster carers didn’t work out and I don’t want any carer to feel bad when that happens. You can still make little ripples of change with the children you have, even if you have them for a short time.

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"If anyone is thinking about becoming a foster carer, then the more life experience you have, the better. The best carers are the ones you don’t expect.

“Foster carers are the unsung heroes who transform lives. I’m immensely grateful for the chance Paul and Alison gave me and I can’t overstate the effect they’ve both had on my life.”

Dominic, who is now aged 29, was diagnosed with dyslexia and dyspraxia as a child and needed support at school until he was 16.

Through the support of Mr and Mrs Blacker, he achieved the grades he needed to get into Scarborough Sixth Form College, before studying criminal psychology at Lincoln University and then completing a master’s degree in human resources.

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Mr Blacker said: “Dominic has always been part of our family and we’re so proud of what he’s achieved. We have four children of our own and they have always seen Dominic as part of the family.

“It’s this time of year that people think of changing careers or wondering how they can make a difference to others. Fostering is a great career choice and not many people realise that it can be a profession.

“You won’t be alone, though. You will have the support of other carers in your community, as we’re in it together.”

Fostering North Yorkshire is offering a £500 golden hello to all newly approved foster carers until December 31.

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There is a range of opportunities for anyone interested in fostering, including short break fostering or planned regular sleepovers, which provide options for adults who work full-time.

Carers receive full training and support to help turn young lives around. There are also tax-free payments and allowances for every night a carer fosters.

Mrs Blacker, 52, said: “The warmth and love you get from the children is so rewarding. It’s wonderful to see them when they’re older and what they’ve made of their lives. I’m blessed to be a foster carer.

“The children come back to you as adults and tell you about the things you did for them which you thought were little, but they explain what a difference you made to them.

"Dominic has made us so proud.”

More information is available at or by calling 01609 534654 to speak to a member of the team.