Superhero to kick off supermarket challenge for foster care

Starz fostering

Andy Whiting will be setting out to raise awareness of the need for more foster families, with his wife LIsa, who has launched fostering agency Starz - Credit: Chris Bishop

There are 97,000 children in care or in need of a foster home. And Superhero Andy Whiting is going to pull his pants on over his tights and walk  a step for every one of them.

Mr Whiting, 51 from Emneth, near Wisbech, hopes to raise awareness of the need for more foster parents on behalf of Starz, a new fostering agency which has been launched by his wife Lisa and two friends.

He will be walking around seven towns, starting from one of their busiest supermarkets to spread the word in his eye-catching costume.

Starz hopes to train carers, support them through their journey and be there to support fostered children after they become young adults.

Andy Whiting

Andy Whiting will be walking 97,000 steps in different town centres, dressed as the Starz Superhero - Credit: Chris Bishop

Childcare worker Mrs Whiting, 52, has launched Starz with friends Nicky Starenczak, who has been fostering for 20 years and  Zoe Key, who has also worked in childcare.

The three have each invested £40,000 to launch a community interest company. Formed in September 2019, its launch was hampered by the pandemic, in particular lockdowns preventing meetings from taking place.

"All three of us have a passion for getting  things right," said Mrs Whiting. "It's not been easy, there's been a couple of times we thought it might fold, but because we're so passionate about what we do, we've kept pushing on."

Lisa Whiting

Lisa Whiting, who has formed Starz fostering agency with two friends - Credit: Chris Bishop

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Ms Starenczak said: "Wanting the best opportunities for children in care and keeping them safe is my passion.

"I am excited to see Starz light the way in changing the way independent fostering agencies support young people leaving care. If anyone out there is interested in becoming a foster carer, please get in touch."

Mrs Whiting said Starz will recruit and train foster carers before helping to match them with children in need of a new start. Some 7,000 families a year are needed in Norfolk.

Starz, which operates across Norfolk, Suffolk, Cambridgeshire and Lincolnshire, will pay families from money it receives from local authorities to fund placements.

Becoming a foster carer takes from three to eight months of training and assessments.

The agency employs its own social worker and psychologist to support families.

Young people placed with Starz can turn to it for support up to the age of 27.

Mr Whiting thanked Andy Paton, manager at Howden's Kitchens in King's Lynn, who has provided Starz with T-shirts to wear for its awareness days.

For more information, e-mail info@starzfosteringcic.co.uk.

Starz on tour

Friday, April 8 (10am - 12-noon) – Springfield shopping centre, Spalding

Friday, April 8 (2pm - 4pm) – Bourne Tesco Extra

Saturday, April 9 (10am - 12-noon) – Ely Waitrose

Saturday, April 9 (2pm - 4pm) – Wisbech Tesco Extra

Sunday, April 10 (10am - 4pm) – Lowestoft (venue tbc)

Monday, April 11 (10am - 12-noon) – Thetford Tesco

Monday, April 11 (2pm - 4pm)  - Kings Lynn Tesco Extra