A FOSTER couple who opened their hearts and home to children with special needs have scooped an award.

Kali and Shiv Banjeet, from Maldon, were presented with the award at a ceremony hosted by the county council.

It was in recognition of their work helping special educational needs children to have a good life.

Kali and Shiv, who are originally from Mauritius, have two children of their own and started fostering three years ago.

They now look after two teenage girls with special needs.

Kali said: “The award was a lovely surprise.

“It makes you feel good, but we are not doing this for any other purpose than enabling the children we have to lead better lives.

“We didn’t actually specify we wanted children with special educational needs, we just opened our doors to anyone.

“But we have seen the progress they have made since they have been with us and can’t believe how far they have come along.

“It is so rewarding, and we are so proud of them.”

Essex County Council’s drive to find 100 new foster carers was launched during Foster Care Fortnight in May.

There are around 750 children in foster care in the county and the number has been increasing for the past two years.

About 200 people attended the ceremony at Billericay’s Stock Brook Country Club.

Council children and families boss Louise McKinlay said: “We can’t thank these people enough for all the work they do.

“Becoming a foster carer is a life choice– it’s not something you close the door on at 5pm every night.

“With the help of these dedicated people the lives of children who have had a tough start in life, and others with learning difficulties, are given the opportunity to reach their full potential and really shine.”

To find out more about fostering, call 0800 801 530 or visit essexadoptionandfostering.co.uk/fostering.