A YOUNG girl who was taken into foster care at the age of 16, has spoken of her gratitude to the family that helped her rebuild her life.

Yana, who is now 18, went to live with foster carer, Marcia O'Connor, and her husband Kevin, in 2017, due to circumstances at home being out of her control.

Initially, Yana was placed with the Haslingden family as a 24-hour emergency case, however, that soon turned from days to weeks and she stayed with the family for two years.

Yana, who now lives independently in Rossendale, has credited her foster mum for helping her get back on her feet and into the Air Cadets.

She also said Mrs O'Connor, who is now retired from foster care, supported her while she applied for the RAF.

Yana said: "I was incredibly lucky to have Marcia as my foster carer, her and Kevin welcomed me into their family as if she was their own flesh and blood and helped to change my life."

Mrs O’Connor has fostered with Child Action Northwest (CANW) since 2012, opening up her home as a safe place to many vulnerable youngsters.

And to help celebrate Foster Care Fortnight which runs from May 13 until May 26, Yana wrote a letter of thanks to Mrs O'Connor and highlighted the need for the next generation to sign up as foster carers.

She said: "We need more people like Marcia to sign up as foster carers and Foster Care Fortnight is the perfect time to learn more about what’s involved. Marcia helped me to see I have strengths and I can be anything I want to be."

Upon reading the letter, Mrs O'Connor broke down in floods of tears. She said: "I didn’t expect the letter to be so intense, it completely took my breath away.

"To see the impact we’ve made on Yana’s life really was incredible and the letter was such a touching gesture. I will treasure it forever."

Mrs O'Connor and her husband are now planning to relocate to Panama, but are adamant it won't be the end of their connection to Yana.

She said: "Everyone in the family is always asking about Yana and she’s always welcome to pop round and see us.

"She’s definitely coming over to stay with us in Panama once we’ve moved out there."

Head of Fostering at CANW, Julie Dawkins, said: "Yana and Marcia’s incredible relationship just shows the level of care doesn’t end when a foster child leaves care.

"We might be losing Marcia as she retires but it means we have space for others to sign up and join us at CANW."