A couple who are well-known in the automotive industry have been recognised for fostering children for more than 35 years.
Malcolm Yorston, technical manager of VIA (the Imported Motor Vehicle Industry Association), and his wife Brenda have received an Excellence in Foster Care Award. They were among 10 caregivers to receive the honour at a ceremony at parliament to mark the end of Foster Care Awareness Week.
“You don’t get into fostering to get awards,” Malcolm told Autofile, who is also father to five children, three of whom are adopted. “The reward for Brenda and I get is being able to help make a change in the lives of some of these kids who, through no fault of their own, are put into situations when there are care and protection issues.
“We get our reward from seeing them grow up and achieve their potential. It’s all about trying to change the habits of a generation and break the cycle so children get a well-rounded grounding to become good citizens and move away from issues in their past. You do not go into fostering for recognition.”
The couple began fostering children in the late 1970s after Brenda’s mum Betty died. She was fostering a young boy at the time, so Malcolm and Brenda took over his care. They adopted him when he was 16.
They fostered youngsters in Christchurch and continued to foster when they moved to Auckland. They have had more than 100 kids through their home over the years.
They are looked up to in the foster-care community and are active members of the Auckland Foster Care Association. Malcolm chaired the New Zealand Family and Foster Care Federation for three years. Brenda’s training as a nurse has allowed them to take on children who have medical, and or high and complex, needs. They support other carers with relief caring and keep up their training.
The Yorstons work hard to maintain strong relationships with their foster children, social workers and other caregivers. They have an open-door policy in their home to ensure everyone feels welcome, safe and loved.
Tracey Martin, Minister for Children, presented the Yorstons with their award on March 9. “I have huge admiration and respect for every one of this country’s foster carers,” she said. “Your generosity and that of your families is amazing.
“The carers who win Excellence in Foster Care Awards are the best of a fantastic group of people who provide the hope, love and sense of belonging all children deserve.”
Linda Surtees, chief executive officer of Fostering Kids NZ, said the awards were a chance to honour ordinary people providing extraordinary support to our most vulnerable children and young people.
“People who provide foster and permanent homes never do it for the recognition,” she added. “They do it because they care deeply. They deserve widespread support and thanks from the community. This is a great opportunity to celebrate them.”
This year’s award recipients came from around the country representing Auckland, Bay of Plenty, Canterbury, Otago and Southland – and from a wide range of backgrounds, ethnicities and were a variety of ages and at a mix of life stages.
Each year, caregivers, social workers and people from communities nominate people for what they do for children. Award recipients are selected for making inspiring changes to their lives, length of service, team approach, their relationship with the child’s family, and their role as a leader or mentor to other caregivers.