Foster carer who turned a teenager's life around
ON paper they may not be officially related — but in their hearts they are mother and daughter.
Zoey Morgan came into care with Foster Care Associates (FCA) at the age of 13 and was introduced to foster carer Julia Cox.
Nearly five years on Zoey has flourished with the help of Julia, who lives in the Afan Valley village of Cwmavon.
She is now heading off to university to begin a new chapter in her life.
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But she said she could never have got there without Julia, who has provided stability in a family setting for so many years.
"I think I owe her my life," she said. "She turned my life around. I think I am a very lucky person as not many people find such a great foster home."
Zoey, who is off to Glamorgan University to study event management, said she could not have asked for a better foster mum.
"She is just amazing," said the 18-year-old. "She has said this is my home for life and I will be coming back for all my holidays.
"Everyone is always saying we have such a good relationship.
"As far as Julia and I are concerned we are mother and daughter.
"People say we look like each other, but we are not related.
"If anyone asks she is my mother."
Zoey has also developed a strong bond with Julia's daughter Sophie, 28, who lives with them.
"We have got so close," she said. "We are like sisters."
Zoey, who attended St Joseph's sixth form centre, received her A-level results last month, which included a pass in the Welsh Baccalaureate as well as English literature, English language and health & social care.
It follows her GCSE successes at Margam's Dyffryn School where she was awarded four B grades and two C grades.
She now has her sights firmly set on fulfilling her ambition to become a wedding planner.
"I am so thrilled to be going to university and I can't wait to start," she said.
"This marks a new and exciting chapter in my life. I have already packed my stuff — I can't wait.
"I will really miss Julia, who has been my rock, supporting and encouraging me with my studies."
Education liaison officer at FCA Cymru, Darren Sykes Wilks, said: "At FCA our focus is about meeting the individual needs of every child or young person we look after.
"In Zoey's case, FCA was able to offer private tuition to support her school studies.
"We are hugely proud of Zoey and her achievements.
"She has worked incredibly hard and we wish her the very best of luck as she continues on her journey through life.
"Thanks to the dedication from foster carer Julie, this achievement is certainly worth celebrating."
FCA Cymru is an independent foster care agency in Wales.
With regional headquarters in Swansea, the organisation works in partnership with local authorities, delivering quality care in a family setting for vulnerable youngsters who are cared for by the agency's 200 foster families across the whole of Wales.
If you think you could make a difference to the life of a young person through fostering, call FCA Cymru on 0800 023 4561, visit www.iwanttofoster.com or join FCA on facebook.com/ fostercareassociates.