A woman fostered three siblings to save them from being split up and gave them a loving home during the coronavirus pandemic.

Philippa Terry from Smithdown, known as Pip, first became a foster carer to two boys aged eight and 11 and one girl aged 13, in the middle of lockdown in April.

The 42-year-old who had previously been working full time and had no children of her own, had initially planned to look after one child on a respite or emergency care basis.

But when her circumstances changed during lockdown, meaning she was now working reduced hours from home, Pip said "all the pieces fell into place" and she was able to make her dream of fostering siblings a reality.

Pip told the ECHO: "It's something I've always thought about and something that has been in the back of my mind.

"I always knew that there's so many children out there that haven't had as good a start in life as I have, so it feels really worthwhile.

"I'm at that stage in my life where I've got time, I've got a house and I've got money to start to give something back."

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After doing some research into fostering last year, Pip found that boys over the age of 12 are the least likely to be fostered.

With this in mind, she signed up to be a volunteer with a local Scout group and started working with the charity 'Action for Children.'

After gaining this experience, moving into a larger house and securing flexible working with her employer, Pip started the process to become a foster carer and was approved in February at the start of the pandemic.

Pip said the thought of the siblings being separated from each other during lockdown was "heartbreaking", so she decided to look after all three of them.

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Pip said: "It’s been absolutely brilliant, as I always wanted to look after sibling groups on long term care, and my change of circumstances due to lockdown has just sped up that process.

"It has been really hard but we have had quite a lot of laughs along the way. We're like a tight little unit now.

"We're used to each others' quirks and they're used to mine.

"Through lockdown it's been amazing because they can play together and do sport and activities together.

"They're been quite self sufficient which is nice. They've always got someone to talk to and they can support each other. It's really important for them."

Pip said people often have a lot of misconceptions around fostering, including what children in care will be like and the lifestyle you need to have in order to become a foster carer.

She said: "I think the thing is with fostering, people don't know the different avenues they can go down. You just need to try it.

"I firmly believe that there is something for everybody regardless of your working life or social life - there's so many different avenues.

"People think it's going to be a long term placement but the reality is you can have lots of different children over the years.

"They could be two years old or 16. It's so varied.

"And as a foster carer you do have a choice over whether you would prefer girls or boys. It's about your comfort and their comfort."

Speaking of the need for more foster carers in Liverpool, Barry Kushner, Cabinet Member for Children’s Services, said: "With the increase in the numbers of children in care, there are just not enough foster carers to provide homes for children who need stable, loving homes.

"In Liverpool, we currently have 1,500 looked after children and if we had more foster carers, we could make sure that they stay in our city.

"That is why we’re appealing to the people of Liverpool to come forward as foster carers and provide homes for children from 0-16 year from all kinds of backgrounds including unaccompanied asylum seeking children.

"We will provide all the support and financial assistance people need to give these change the best start in life.

"We want to be able to keep children in their local communities, and as much as possible help siblings stay together, but we can only do this with an increase in local authority foster carers.

"After all, Liverpool looks after their own.”