A student living in the East of England has been awarded the third President’s Award by The Fostering Network in recognition of her significant contribution to fostering.
Zoe Witherington first became involved with The Fostering Network in 2013 to support our Don’t Move Me campaign. During the campaign Zoe, between her studies, campaigned hard appearing in newspapers, on television, and on radio right across England sharing her story in the hope of creating a more positive future for other children and young people. This campaign, aimed at securing the opportunity for young people in England to stay living with their foster carers beyond the age of 18, was successful and similar schemes have since been replicated in Wales and Scotland.
Since then Zoe has twice played host to the Duchess of Cambridge - at The Fostering Network’s 2015 Fostering Excellence Awards, and at a celebration tea party for foster carers in Islington. She has also been a member of several young people’s groups supporting projects and programmes run by The Fostering Network. In addition to this, she has been a key speaker at a number of events and conferences, and to this day Zoe shares her story willingly to campaign to make life better for children and young people who are care experienced.
Lynnette, Zoe’s foster carer, who fosters for By The Bridge, said: ‘We are extremely proud of Zoe. She arrived at our home a child full of trauma and loss. We watched her grow and develop, guided her on her way until she no longer required us to hold her so tight. We gave her free rein and she sailed away. Ships in harbours are safe, but that isn’t what ships were built for.
‘Zoe will always remember her past, but her interest in helping others achieve will ensure she also remembers her future which we are sure will be filled with good things. Sail away Zoe but always remember to drop into port each time your passing.’
Jim Bond MBE, president of The Fostering Network, said: ‘Zoe is a selfless young woman who shared her story with the world in the hope of changing it, and she did. She helped to change the world for thousands of children and young people for generations to come.
‘I had the pleasure of hosting the Duchess of Cambridge alongside Zoe and she was an incredible advocate for all young people. She is a shining example of what hard work and dedication can do. Her potential knows no bounds and this is just one success on a much longer journey of success.
'I would also like to pay tribute to Lynnette, and Zoe’s wider fostering family and extended family, who provided her with a home, with love, and with the security to ensure that Zoe could achieve all that she has.'
If you would like to nominate a young person aged between 16-24 for a Fostering Achievement Award at the 2016 Fostering Excellence Awards, please visit thefosteringnetwork.org.uk/awards