For Ray and Beryl Bishop, Fostering and supporting children with special needs has become a way of life.

Ray Bishop, aged 70, from Erdington, explained how he and his wife have a total of 8 children, ranging in age from 52 down to 17.

Ray used to work as a manager in a family run timber and builders’ merchants and retired in 1994 to support his wife Beryl, and now they both devote all of their time to fostering and supporting their family.

Five of Ray and Beryl’s children have special needs, four of whom they adopted from an early age. “we’ve been fostering for over 40 years” Said Ray, “we were foster carers of the year once, the children who we foster never seem to want to leave, we’ve become specialists in caring for those with special needs"

“The support at Focus is absolutely wonderful, it’s like home from home”

Two of their adopted children, Tara and Cardell, now in their early 30’s both attend the Focus Birmingham day service from Monday to Friday. They enjoy all the daily activities and have built up a great rapport with the staff.

Ray said “Tara and Cardell have been at Focus since 2005, we’re very, very pleased, the support is absolutely wonderful, it’s like their home from home”  

The team at Focus keep a diary of all the activities that go on through the day, both in the centre and out in the community.

Tara especially loves to spend time with her dad at the end of each day, sharing and chatting about all that she has been doing at the centre.

Ray added “Focus are great at working out different strategies for everyone they care for. Everyone loves Cardell, he’s a laugh a minute, Tara dances with the royal ballet and is often seen pirouetting round the centre, she’s also really good at signing”  

Ray and Beryl certainly set a great example of loving parents who are also amazing advocates for their children, always willing to challenge any discrimination and to stand up for the rights of all visually impaired and disabled people.

The Focus Birmingham Day Service provides Monday to Friday support for adults from the age of nineteen upwards, to deliver stimulating programmes of activities which are tailored to the needs of the individual.