MIKE Foster has been named as the winner of the Pride of Gwent Lifetime Achievement Award.

Since 2009, the Newport resident has fostered more than 50 children, mostly teenage boys, including numerous asylum seekers from overseas.

He will collect his Lifetime Achievement Award at the Pride of Gwent winners’ ceremony at Rodney Parade, sponsored by ND Care & Support.

Whilst recovering from a serious fall that nearly resulted in the amputation of his leg, Mr Foster said he had a “chance to think about what to do next”.

“My own children had grown up and left home. I was living alone and reflected that I was happiest around young people. I felt I could help to nurture and guide them," he said.

“I approached the council and started the process to become a foster carer.”

South Wales Argus: Pride of Gwent Awards 2023

He remembers how it felt both “nerve-racking” and “rewarding” to realise the influence he held over shaping a young person’s life.

“Each child is so very different, but they all have the same basic needs: stability, compassion, respect, and love,” he said.

Around one in five of all UK immigrants were asylum seekers and refugees last year, and many of these find a new home in Wales.

Since 2014, around the same time Mr Foster started to foster asylum seekers, the UK has resettled more than 50,000 people through schemes for places such as Afghanistan and Ukraine.

Where English skills are limited, Mr Foster uses Google Translate and mime to aid communication – but his main takeaway is just how similar we all are.

South Wales Argus:

“The challenges are, by and large, the same," he said. "They have the same basic needs – safety above all.

“Culture, religion and diet can be challenge, but I have learned that whatever these children come from, they follow the same basic rules as me.

“The overseas children predominantly come from loving, caring families and a stable home life, but due to politics, war or genocide have had to flee – literally – for their lives.”

The Pride of Gwent ceremony takes place this Thursday, December 7.

Last year, 110 young refugees came to Wales seeking shelter. Local authority foster carers around the country came forward to provide vital support.

But, with the need expected to grow this year, Foster Wales – representing Wales’ 22 local authorities - are issuing an urgent call for Welsh communities to come forward to help these young people in need.

If you want to know more about supporting young refugees, get in touch with your local Foster Wales team or visit fosterwales.gov.wales