Soap star Chelsea Halfpenny

Soap star Chelsea Halfpenny is supporting a Doncaster fostering campaign.

With estimates showing that more than 9,000 new foster carers are needed across the UK in 2013, 800 alone in the Yorkshire and Humberside region, Doncaster Council joined forces with the Emmerdale actress to launch a new recruitment campaign.

The campaign, which is part of the national Foster Care Fortnight initiative, aims to dispel the common myths which often put potential foster carers off making that first enquiry.

A pop-up shop in the Frenchgate Shopping Centre, set up to look like a teenager's bedroom, helped to raise awareness of the message that all you need to start the application process is a spare bedroom.

Chelsea’s Emmerdale character, Amy Wyatt, has benefited from being taken in by a foster family and Chelsea hopes others will be inspired to do the same.

The 20 year old actress joined the soap in October 2010. Her character has been central to main storylines, playing the rebellious teenager with a kooky style and heavy eye-liner.

Already nominated for three ‘Best Newcomer’ awards for her portrayal of Amy, Chelsea tells us what it’s like working for one of the best loved British soaps, singing off set, and why she’s so passionate about backing the fostering campaign...

Q What is the aim of the fostering campaign?

A The campaign is there to remind people about fostering services and to let them know where to go if they want any more information. I want people to notice the campaign, so if they see my face and recognise me from Emmerdale, then it might make people look twice at a poster and read more about it.

Q Why did you decide to get involved?

A I like to do things that I’m interested in and passionate about. My character in Emmerdale, Amy, is a foster child. I like to remind myself of the issues that Amy must have faced as a child, such as stability issues from not growing up in your average household. She’s been through a lot and I care about portraying that right.

The storylines in Emmerdale do work hard to reflect real life and the fact is that teenagers are a particularly difficult group to find good foster carers for. It's a shame as teenagers are often the group that most need that comfort and support from a strong family unit as they struggle to make the transition to independence and adulthood.

Q How do you get in the zone, to switch from being Chelsea to Amy?

A Amy has more of an attitude than me, she’s quite fun to play and is so different from the real me. But at the same time, she has an emotional side, so I constantly run through in my head the different things she’s been through and that helps me to get in the right frame of mind.

I was really lucky to grow up in a big family. My mum and dad split up when I was young, but I’ve always stayed in touch with my dad. I’m close to my nannan and granddad and aunties and uncles too, so I'm always reminding myself how lucky I am.

Q When did you decide you wanted to become an actress?

A I was about five years old when I knew I wanted to become an actress. I went to singing and acting classes all through my school years and when I reached ten years old, I went to the open auditions for Biker Grove and landed my first job. That was the start of it for me really. It’s quite cool that now I’m 20 years old, I can say my acting career spans a decade.

Q What’s next for Amy in Emmerdale?

A I can’t reveal too much about the story lines, but I can tell you that you’ll see the natural growing up of Any now. She’s only 18 years old and her mum coming back onto the scene has been a big deal for her. She’s just learning to cope with that again.

Q Do you hang out with the Emmerdale cast off set?

A Yes, I'm really close friends with Laura Norton, who plays Kerry, my character’s mum in the show. There’s actually only a nine year age gap between us in real life, we are more like sisters. We are both quite musical, I sing and Laura plays piano, just for fun, and we go on our holidays together too.

I also live in Leeds now with Isabel Hodgins, who plays Victoria on the show. To be honest, the whole cast are like my second family. I share a dressing room with Fiona Wade, who plays Priya on the show, and I’m part of the blue family — the production team organise the Emmerdale families with colours and I’m part of the blue family — so I often go out for meals with Charlie Hardwick and Chris Chittell, who play Val and Eric, my foster parents in the show. It’s a really great team.

Almost anyone can foster as long as you are over 21, have a spare room and the energy and enthusiasm to look after local children. People who decide to foster through Doncaster Council will receive 24 hour support and generous allowances. Anyone who is interested in fostering can contact the team on freephone 0808 129 2600 or make an enquiry online at www.fosteringindoncaster.org.