Plea for more foster carers to come forward

Mike Cobb-Pernak with his son Karim, nine
Mike Cobb-Pernak with his son Karim, nine

A man who says an illness scare gave him a wake-up call has encouraged other men to register as foster carers.

Mike Cobb-Pernak, from Burton Latimer, cares for Lisa, which is not her real name.

She has lived with Mike, his wife Jola and their natural son Karim since September.

Mike said the experience has been rewarding for the family and beneficial for Lisa.

The 63-year-old said: “We both felt we had a bit of space in our lives and in our home and felt it would be nice to give something back.

“She’s now a happy, developing child. She’s having to overcome some obstacles, but she’s at a local primary school and she’s now beginning to make good progress.

“There’s a real sense she’s moving on in life. The best way to judge if we are having an effect is how she’s getting on.”

Mike and Jola, who foster via agency Orange Grove, have urged more people to register.

Mike said: “If you look at the number of children in need of families, it is a national disgrace. There clearly aren’t enough foster carers.

“I think the fear people have is if they open their door to a foster child an amazingly disruptive child will arrive.

“Really, all they are is children with needs. We were nervous. We didn’t want to let her down – would we be the kind of people she wants to be with?

“Sometimes, when you get a hug, you do feel it’s made a difference to her.”

Mike says he wants to set up a swap shop of toys, clothes and equipment with other local foster parents to ensure children are welcomed into their new homes.

He has asked anyone who can help – including with storage and delivery – to email him on