Gay men and women across the UK are being invited to attend an event in the country’s first-ever LGBT Adoption and Fostering Week, from 20 to 26 February.

While adoption rates are at their lowest in ten years, LGBT adoption support charity New Family Social says authorities have come to value gay parents, who they say often have the right mix of skills and experience to raise children who have been in care.

In a New Family Social survey of 130 social workers, 72% saw the “amount of energy and enthusiasm” LGBT adopters bring to the process as a significant strength.

The survey, coordinated with Cambridge University, 76% saw “openness to difference, and supporting a child with a sense of difference” as equally important.

The charity said historically, gay people were seen as a “last resort” when placing children.

In 2010, a survey found 10% of people thought gay people were not allowed to adopt.

On the week of 20 February, events will be held in Birmingham, Brighton, Bristol, Cornwall, Edinburgh, Ipswich, Leeds, Liverpool, London, Milton Keynes, Nottingham, Reading, South Shields, Swansea and Tameside to provide potential parents with information and resources.

Hugh Thornbery, Strategic Director of Children’s Services at Action for Children, said: “Over the years, our LGBT foster carers and adopters have helped to transform many children’s lives.

“We welcome more applications from LGBT foster carers and adopters; the main thing is that you are able to give children and young people the care and support they need to be happy and fulfilled.”

Andy Leary-May, Director of New Family Social, said: “More and more LGBT people are choosing adoption and fostering as a way to form a family, and we want prospective parents to see just how rewarding it can be, and how much advice and support is on offer from our huge community of families around the UK”.

The free events include talks from local LGBT adoptive and foster parents about their experiences and information on how to start the process.

Leary-May adds: “The fact that so many agencies want to recruit from the LGBT community show just how far things have come in the past 5 or 6 years. Social workers are becoming more aware of our strengths, and we are being treated more fairly, and are being matched with children more quickly”.

Last year Michael Gove, who was himself adopted, criticised past restrictions on sexual orientation, race and age while announcing new adoption guidelines: “Thousands of children are currently in the care system waiting to be adopted. Every day they wait is a day they’re denied the loving home all children deserve. But politically-correct attitudes and ridiculous bureaucracy keep many of those children waiting far too long.

“Edicts which say children have to be adopted by families with the same ethnic background, and which prevent other families adopting because they don’t fit leftwing prescriptions, are denying children the love they need.”

A full list of the events, many of which are to be held in the evenings, can be found at the LGBT Fostering and Adoption Week website.