A former foster carer has called for potential new recruits to come forward after he received an MBE, which he dedicated to the efforts of those involved in supporting young people in the service.
Paul Creelman is a former police officer who began fostering with his wife, Christine, as a new focus after retiring from the North Yorkshire force. They have provided a home for 15 children over the course of 14 years.
His MBE was awarded by King Charles in recognition of that commitment, along with work in the youth justice sector and helping at Scarborough’s Rainbow Centre, a foodbank providing wider assistance for the homeless.
Mr Creelman, 66, who lives in Scarborough, said: “I am very honoured to have got it, and would like all foster carers to feel part of it. The job isn’t always easy, but the rewards are amazing.”
Most of the young people the couple have fostered had remained in touch and gone on to positive lives and constructive careers, he said, but were still pleased to get back in touch to report the progress in their lives.
“Some people say they would like to foster and I look at them and think they would be excellent,” he said.
“Once you have got yourself over the hurdle of taking someone into your home, it all slots into place. You are never unsupported, and it is better to give it a go than not.”
Paul Creelman also spent many years working on a project called Skills 4 Work to guide young people, who had achieved little at school and were at risk of drifting into trouble, towards work.
He said: “It was a fantastic, successful, project. We have had bricklayers, scaffolders, joiners and ground-workers come out of it. These were lads who had no academic qualifications when they came to us, and in some cases struggled with social interaction. Now there are so many people who are working, with a trade behind them, because of that project.”
Although he has now moved on, Mr Creelman is still involved with the Rainbow Centre, making early morning tours of the streets to offer hot drinks to the homeless and guide them towards the help that awaits them to improve their lives.
Executive member for children and young people’s services, Cllr Janet Sanderson, said: “Foster carers are a vital part of society and the contribution they make is invaluable to the lives of the young people and children they help.
“Paul Creelman has been a wonderful asset to North Yorkshire in that respect. But he did not stop there and his work in other areas of public life has helped many, many people in times of great need. His honour is richly deserved.”