An awards event has taken place to celebrate the successes of young people in care.
The Southern Health and Social Care Trust in partnership with The Fostering Network hosted the event in Armagh City Hotel, when 100 young people in foster and residential care were nominated by their social workers and received awards for a wide range of achievements.
Opening the awards ceremony, Paul Morgan, Director of Children and Young People’s Services in the Southern Trust said: “We know the many challenges that young people in care face, so it is important to celebrate when they overcome these challenges and achieve success.
“As parents we are proud when our children do well, and as corporate parents for the children in our care – we in the Southern Trust are extremely proud of their achievements and want to celebrate them.
Kathleen Toner, the Director of Fostering Network, commented: “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 carers and kinship foster carers as primary educators is key to our success as are the close partnerships with education and health which enable us to provide individual support to more than 1300 children and young people each year.
“We are particularly delighted to be delivering our Achievement Awards in partnership with the Southern Health and Social Care Trust; this is prioritising the importance of education outcomes for looked after children.
“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.”
One care leaver, Aiysha Johnston, shared her own views on the importance of education when in care: “Education is so important, sometimes we just don’t see it that way, if I had one message to give, it is this – use all the support available to you and stick with it because it is your future.”
Mildred Hollywood, HOS for Residential Care in the Southern Trust, also highlighted the achievements of all the young people attending the event, and offered her thanks to the sponsors:
“The young people here today have taken their future into their own hands, they’ve excelled in areas of their individual interests and have gained knowledge and skills that will help them in the future.”
“This celebration event is one of the most important in the Trust’s calendar and continues to grow every year. We really want to thank our sponsors – Lurgan Credit Union and the Education Board – they both played a key part in the Looked After Children Achievement Awards ceremony.”
Entertainment in the evening included music and personal testimony by the young people, as well as a drum workshop and a cupcake decorating workshop for everyone to get involved in.
Picture: Kathleen Toner, the Director of Fostering Network; Sintija Jaunslauiete and Paul Morgan, Director of Children and Young People’s Services in the Southern Trust.