Christmas for many families will have been filled with excitement and joy.

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But for children and young people living in care, it is a time of year that can bring its own difficulties as they get used to living away from home or missing the company of their loved ones.

In a bid to bring some added cheer and an extra bit of festive magic to those in care over Christmas, the transport provider First Bus has put on a special festive treat – by paying for 100 children, young people and their carers to see the pantomime Cinderella, starring Amanda Barrie, at the Marina Theatre in Lowestoft.

First Bus has teamed up with the Marina Theatre and Children’s and Young Peoples Services at Suffolk County Council make the visit a reality.

Tod Sullivan, fostering support worker at Suffolk County Council, said: “We are extremely pleased with this partnership. Looked-after children and children in vulnerable and deprived homes can find this time of year difficult and so receiving the kindness of a gift like this is a simple way to show that they are being kept in mind by others.”

He said the festive season could be difficult for looked-after children and foster carers in many ways. “Some of them will have been in care for a long time and some of them will be newly in care. Many will be settled with their foster family, but some will be wanting to be home and finding it difficult to be away from their own family.

“It can be hard getting used to Christmas with a new set of people and, even if they like living where they are, Christmas can still throw up a strange set of feelings about being away from siblings and parents.

“Many foster parents will already have children of their own so once you have brought in another child it can be expensive to do things at Christmas. Something like a pantomime might not be affordable for most people so this does help with that.”

First Bus’s creative director Chelsea de Silva said she was pleased the company had been able to work with the Marina Theatre on the project.

She said: “The tradition of festive Christmas pantomimes should be enjoyed by all children, and I’m glad First were able to help make this happen for Suffolk children.”

Marina Theatre marketing manager Ian Clarke added: “This wonderful experience for children and young people in care has been made a reality due to the generosity of First Bus. This is a very good example of what can be done when there is a genuine desire from all parties involved to make good things happen.”

In Suffolk, there are not enough foster families available for all the children and young people who need them.

Suffolk County Council is keen to hear from people who would like to find out more about becoming a carer and make a positive difference to the lives of a local child and their family.

To find out more, contact the council’s fostering recruitment and assessment team on 0800 328 2148 or visit suffolkfostering.com

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