A NEWPORT man who has spent more than a decade as a foster carer says the experience has been rewarding and broadened his horizons.

Mike Foster first started fostering in around 2010 and for the past five years has also been welcoming young refugees who arrive in the country on their own, because their homelands have been ravaged by war and violence.

Newport is home to around one third of Wales’s unaccompanied refugees and there are now calls for more people to come forward and offer their support.

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Mr Foster said: "It would be understandable to be wary of it but my experience has been very, very positive.

"These are young people that need help and protection, and I see that as very important."

South Wales Argus: Mike Foster said “these are young people that need help and protection, and I see that as very important.Mike Foster said “these are young people that need help and protection, and I see that as very important. (Image: Foster Wales)

Every year around 36 million young people are displaced globally because of conflict and violence.

More than 100 of these young refugees will come to Wales seeking shelter and support.

"They've suffered a major trauma and I'm only too glad to help," Mr Foster said.

"The refugees I've seen, I would say by and large, they've come from a stable, loving family and then they've had their world torn apart as a teenager."

The majority of young refugees arriving in Wales are teenage boys, and many come from Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, and Sudan.

Fostering has also made a big difference to Mr Foster's life and he has forged close bonds with the young people he has supported.

"It’s broadened my understanding of different cultures and made me realise how similar everybody is," he said. "We all want the same things.

"I looked after one young man who got married last year, he was with me for three years. He still talks to me every week.

"He treats me like a father figure and there are others as well that still live in the local area and I see them regularly.

"These are young people that need help and protection, and I see that as very important. I know I’m making a difference."

Many local authority foster carers in Wales are already providing vital support, but more are needed to address ongoing crises around the world, which leave so many young lives turned upside down.

All 22 of the nation's councils, under the umbrella of Foster Wales, are now issuing an urgent call for people to come forward to help these young people in need.

The importance of fostering has also gained media attention in recent days after John Lewis unveiled its 2022 Christmas advert, which raises awareness of children in care.

Foster Wales said Wales has "a proud history of coming to the aid of those in need", including recent support for Ukrainian refugees fleeing the Russian invasion of their country.

Head of Foster Wales, Alastair Cope, said: "It's a journey you wouldn't wish anyone to have to take, especially a young teen, alone.

"Many young refugees have to leave behind their loving family to escape war, violence, and oppression in the hope of a better life.

"We know there are great people in Wales who, with our support, could guide young people to start a new life here.

"As well as supporting local children from Wales who need foster care, providing safety for any child or young person who needs our help, is what Foster Wales is all about."

For more information on how you could help a young refugee, visit fosterwales.gov.wales or contact your local authority.