Earlier this week Margaret Ritchie, MP for South Down, met with Glen and Regina Mahon from Downpatrick, County Down, who have been fostering for 15 years and were recently named Foster Carers of the Year by leading charity, The Fostering Network, to discuss foster care in Northern Ireland. The conversation focused particularly on their experiences of foster care, and the benefits well supported foster care can bring to the community.
When the couple received their award, the selection panel commented on the steadfastness, generosity and big-heartedness of the Mahon’s. They were particularly impressed by the fact that when the youngest child in their care was in hospital in Birmingham for major heart surgery, resulting in a 16 week stay, Glen moved with him to Birmingham, sitting alongside him all day and night. The couple currently foster five boys, including two sets of siblings with a range of complex needs.
Reginas mum has just rerired from fostering and Glen and Regina’s son and his wife have been so inspired by them that they are carrying on the family tradition and are now registered foster carers.
Margaret Ritchie MP said: “I would like to congratulate Glen and Regina for this award and for their dedication and commitment to their foster children. Glen and Regina provide not only a tremendous service, but their love and attention to children over the years, which is priceless. We owe them gratitude for the job they do in often difficult circumstances. This is a well-deserved award, and I would like to thank them for the job they do so well and the support provided to many children over the years.”
Kathleen Toner, director of The Fostering Network in Northern Ireland, said: “The fostering community is part of the fabric of Northern Ireland, and we are delighted that Margaret Ritchie MP has taken the opportunity to meet with the Mahons and hear from them the impact positive impact fostering can have.
“Over the coming months we will be continuing to campaign to secure the introduction of minimum fostering standards in Northern Ireland. Opportunities such as the meeting today to gave is a great way for elected representatives to understand the real need for foster care in Northern Ireland by hearing carers' first hand experiences of our care system.”
If you believe you could be like Glen, Regina, and their family, and welcome children who can’t live with their birth families into your home then please visit thefosteringnetwork.org.uk and find out more about becoming a foster carer today.