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Foster Wales Neath Port Talbot foster carer shares family recipe in new celeb-backed cookbook.

Tracey Merchant contributed a recipe to ‘bring something to the table’, a new book full of recipes and life-changing fostering moments from carers and care experienced people.

Foster Wales Neath Port Talbot foster carer shares family recipe in new celeb-backed cookbook.

This Foster Care Fortnight™, Foster Wales Neath Port Talbot is calling on people in the area to consider becoming foster carers to support local young people in need.

Recent research by Foster Wales – the national network of local authority fostering services – found people are often put off applying to become a carer because they don’t believe they have the ‘right’ skills and experience.

In their new cookbook – Bring something to the table – Foster Wales highlight the simple things, a carer can offer – like the security of a regular meal, family time around the table, and creating new food favourites.

Bring something to the table has over 20 recipes, including recipes from the foster care community, and celebrity chefs.

MasterChef Winner, Wynne Evans; Young MasterChef Judge, Poppy O’Toole; and cook/author Colleen Ramsey have contributed recipes. Also featured are Olympic athlete and foster care campaigner, Fatima Whitbread, who was herself in care.

Former Great British Bake-Off contestant Jon Jenkins and comedian Kiri Pritchard Mclean also added recipes – drawing on their personal experiences as foster carers.

Tracey Merchant, who has been a foster carer with Foster Wales Neath Port Talbot for 13 years, also contributed to the cookbook. Tracey has looked after 13 children in total and is currently fostering two girls who absolutely love cooking homemade meals.

‘’As a foster carer for two teenage girls, I see their eagerness to become independent, and their shared love for cooking is evident. I believe it's crucial for both of them to learn essential skills in the kitchen as they journey into adulthood. Our family's Thai curry recipe holds special significance, not just as a delicious dish, but also as a tradition we cherish together. Encouraging homemade cooking in our home isn't just about meals; it's about empowering my girls with essential skills for adulthood.’’

Care-experienced young people share authentic experiences

To launch the book, Colleen Ramsey, author of ‘Bywyd a Bwyd, Life Through Food’, will host a cookery workshop for young care-experienced people to learn a new recipe and vital cooking skills to take into their future independent lives.

Young care experienced people have also been heavily involved in the development of the cookbook.

Sophia Warner, a Welsh illustrator, campaigner, and care-experienced young person, illustrated and wrote the foreword for the cookbook:

“When I was younger, I vividly recall grilling my foster mum about the origins of the food she presented, insisting it hailed from Brecon, my beloved childhood stomping ground. I penned ‘Brecon Bolognese’ for the cookbook, based on my foster mum’s recipe.

“This recipe holds a special place in my heart because it was the first meal I had when I moved into my foster home. I mentioned that my birth mum used to make it and my foster mum lovingly prepared it for me. As I sat around the table with my new foster family, I felt a sense of belonging and warmth, making me feel truly welcome.”

More foster families are needed across Wales

Every May, Foster Care Fortnight™ - The Fostering Network's annual campaign to raise the profile of fostering and show how foster care transforms lives – hope to raise awareness of the need for more foster carers.

In Wales, there are more than 7,000 children in care, but only 3,800 foster families.

Foster Wales has set out with the bold aim of recruiting over 800 new foster families by 2026, to provide welcoming homes for local children and young people.

The cookbook will be distributed to foster carers across Wales and a digital version can be downloaded from:

Councillor Sian Harris, Neath Port Talbot Council’s Cabinet Member for Children & Family Services, said: “We often don't realise how much something as simple as sharing a meal can mean to a young person. Foster carers like Tracey show us how important it is to build strong relationships and teach valuable life skills, like cooking together."

Councillor Harris added: "During Foster Care Fortnight, it's a reminder of how many children need loving homes in our communities. If you're thinking about fostering, please get in touch with our fostering team. Your decision could make a huge difference to a young person's life."

To find out more about becoming a foster carer in Wales visit

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