‘Foster care gave me a future’: Hollie receives The Fostering Network in Northern Ireland’s inaugural President’s Award 

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Media release

Hollie George, 24, will receive The Fostering Network in Northern Ireland’s inaugural President’s Award in recognition of her outstanding contribution to foster care. The award will be presented on Friday 17 May at Malone House, Belfast. 

Reflecting on her experience of foster care from the age of nine, Hollie is clear her foster carers, Trevor and Heather, changed her future for the better. 

Hollie demonstrates a determination to make the best of every opportunity presented to her, despite a challenging start in life in which she missed a full year of school and spent much of her time caring for her younger brother. She has always been clear they “come as a package” and she remains devoted to him. 
Hollie’s foster carers encouraged her to engage with education and by the time she was 16, she was deputy head girl at her school. She went on to achieve a degree in sociology and criminology at Ulster University and has now embarked on an ambitious consultancy career in Belfast.

Libby Thornhill, President of The Fostering Network said: ‘It is a great honour to award Hollie with the first President’s Award in Northern Ireland. Not only has Hollie built a promising future for herself, she has contributed significantly to promoting the importance of a stable, caring home life with a fostering family. She has consistently supported her local Health and Social Care Trust and The Fostering Network in demonstrating the importance of a stable, loving foundation to enable a child to reach their full potential. 

‘She is the embodiment of this year’s Foster Care Fortnight message. Fostering really can “change a future”. Hollie is a great role model to young people and an inspiration to all of us.’ 

Kathleen Toner, Director of The Fostering Network in Northern Ireland, said: ‘Hollie is a truly remarkable young woman who has been a great help in raising the profile of fostering over the last few years. Hollie has generously shared her personal experiences of foster care because she passionately believes it has made her the person she is today. 

With her foster carers, social worker and the Western Trust, we are immensely proud of her achievements and delighted to honour her dedication and commitment with this President’s Award.’

At least 250 new foster families are needed in Northern Ireland during 2019 to provide stable, secure and caring homes for fostered children, according to figures released by The Fostering Network. 

Una Carragher, Manager of Regional Adoption and Fostering Service said: ‘There is an ongoing need for more foster families across Northern Ireland. There are people out there who could change the future of a young person like Hollie just like her foster carers did. However, some people rule themselves out of becoming a foster carer because of myths and misbeliefs about fostering. If you are interested in fostering, please find out more before ruling yourself out.

‘If you are caring, resilient, flexible and have the time and space in your life for a child or young person we would be happy to hear from you.’


Notes to editors: 

For more information or interviews with Hollie or Kathleen Toner from The Fostering Network please email emma.mcaleer@fostering.net or phone 07795485363. 

  • The Fostering Network is the UK’s leading fostering charity. We are the essential network for fostering, bringing together everyone who is involved in the lives of fostered children. We champion fostering and seek to create vital change so that foster care is the very best it can be.
  • Foster Care Fortnight™ is The Fostering Network's annual campaign to raise the profile of fostering and to show how foster care transforms lives. It is also the UK's biggest foster carer recruitment campaign. Foster Care Fortnight 2019 is taking place from Monday 13 to Sunday 26 May and this year it runs under the theme #changeafuture.
  • The President’s Awards are given to members of the fostering community who have made an extraordinary contribution to foster care and celebrates supporters who have gone to great lengths to raise the profile of fostering.
  • The Fostering Network annually calculates recruitment targets, estimating the number of foster families that fostering services need to recruit during the next year across the UK. The figures take into account a number of factors including the percentage of the foster carer workforce leaving each year and the rise in the numbers of children in care.