More than 50 children and young people in care were commended for aiming high as they joined the Belfast HSC Trust fostering service and The Fostering Network Northern Ireland at the annual Fostering Achievement Awards in Belfast at the weekend.
It is the sixth year that the awards have been held in recognition of academic, musical, sporting and social achievements of children and young people who are in foster care.
Speaking at the event, Kathleen Toner, director of The Fostering Network Northern Ireland, said: ‘As a charity we are aspirational for all fostered children, and those at the awards today show us what can be achieved. We are increasingly aware of the importance of the Fostering Achievement programme in supporting the aspirations of children and young people in foster care. Working with foster and kinship carers as primary educators is key to our success as is our close partnership with the Belfast Health and Social Care Trust. Education in its broadest sense is crucial to providing young people with the skills and knowledge they need to make choices to reach their full potential, we are very proud of the part we play in that.’
Lesley Walker, co-director Children’s Community Services, Belfast Trust who presented the awards said: ‘Belfast Trust is delighted to partner with The Fostering Network to acknowledge the achievements of children and young people in our care. Together we want our children and young people to be the very best they can be. We will support children and young people in achieving their dreams and aspirations, helping them to be the best they can be.’
Recognising the wide range of skills and achievements, she added: ‘Pursuing further education, mastering a musical instrument, learning to drive, taking ice skating lessons – these are all positive examples of what children and young people in care can achieve when Belfast HSC Trust, The Fostering Network and our foster carers work together to help young people be the very best they can be.’
Eighteen year old Shannon Massey who has lived with foster carers for almost two years and is studying for a B-Tech Level 3 in Hospitality received an award in recognition of her achievements in further education. She credits her foster carers with giving her the practical support and encouragement to pursue her ambitions:
‘My dream is to keep studying Hospitality and maybe some day to have a management role in a hotel. My advice to someone considering becoming a foster carer would be that you’re going to be helping a kid who probably really needs it. You could be the most positive influence they ever have.’
Find out more about Fostering Achievement.
DJ Johnny Hero joins young person Shannon Massey, co-director Children’s Community Services, Belfast Trust Lesley Walker and director of The Fostering Network in Northern Ireland Kathleen Toner at the Fostering Achievement Awards in the Hilton