‘Foster for Your Community’ partnership endorsed by Stormont

23rd September 2021
HSC Foster Adoption announcement

HSC Northern Ireland (NI) Foster Care have teamed up with key Sporting Organisations in Northern Ireland to encourage more people to ‘foster for your community’.

Health Minister, Robin Swann came together at Stormont with Chief Executives of Ulster GAA, Irish Football Association, Ulster Rugby and NI Sports Forum to endorse this new partnership and officially launch the relationship between HSC NI Foster Care and Sport.

These sports organisations share common interests with HSC NI Foster Care in that they seek to promote the wellbeing and development of our youth and optimise their potential and life opportunities. The importance of families, a sense of community spirit, and team work also feature heavily in their ethos.

There are currently over 2,800 children and young people living in foster care in Northern Ireland. With an increase in the number of children and young people requiring foster care year on year and a downturn in people coming forward to foster, HSC NI Foster Care urgently need more foster carers.

Health Minister, Robin Swann said: “My sincere thanks to our foster carers for the selfless role they play, they are to be commended for the incredible work that they do and this year has been extremely challenging. The pandemic has meant that foster carers have coped with the increased levels of anxiety and pressure, keeping children occupied, managing home schooling and generally supporting children and young people.

“I welcome the added support from the key Sporting Organisations championing the recruitment for more foster carers in Northern Ireland to care and support our children and young people.”

Kerrylee Weatherall, Co-Director lead for HSC NI Foster Care said: “There’s no doubt the past year and a half has been very challenging due to the circumstances of the COVID pandemic. Despite it all, our foster carers have continued to care for, support and nurture our looked after children and we are so grateful to them for the loving and secure homes they provide to children and young people at a time when they need it most.

“We are delighted that the key Sporting Organisations in Northern Ireland have committed to championing the need for recruiting more foster carers and helping us spread the word about fostering to all communities in Northern Ireland.

“We need caring, compassionate people from a range of backgrounds to come forward and provide foster homes across Northern Ireland. Every child in foster care deserves to have a happy, loving and safe home they can call their own, with a family who will be there for them in good times and in difficult times, and ultimately help them achieve their potential in life.”

Communities Minister Deirdre Hargey has also endorsed this new partnership. She said: “I am pleased to note how the single largest recruitment agency for foster carers in the North has teamed up with the major sports bodies in seeking to highlight the vital nature and role of foster care in our society. It is important that we work collaboratively to ensure that our children and young people get the best possible start in life through providing positive life experiences to those who have faced significant challenges in the early part of their young lives. I commend HSC NI Foster Care and Sports for this collaborative effort.”

Ciaran Kearney, Executive Manager of NI Sports Forum said: “The NI Sports Forum is delighted to endorse HSC NI Foster Care’s new partnership with Sporting Organisations. Both HSC NI Foster Care and NI Sports Forum have many similar values in promoting and enhancing the wellbeing of young people. With a significant decrease in foster care enquires in NI over the past year, we would encourage as many Sporting Organisations to also spread the message which will hopefully result in increased recruitment of foster carers.”

Ulster GAA CEO and Provincial Secretary Brian McAvoy added: “The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted adversely on the numbers of foster carers coming forward and given the value and importance sporting organisations place on the development of young people, it is a natural fit that we should collectively lend our support to this campaign to encourage new carers.

“Child welfare and protection is a core principle of our association and at the centre of this is a safe and stable home environment. Ulster GAA is honoured to partner HSC NI Foster Care and our sporting colleagues in this truly worthwhile campaign.”

Patrick Nelson, Chief Executive of the Irish Football Association said: “There has never been a more important time to support the young people of Northern Ireland. And, we know, that the power of sport can help make that connection. So we’re delighted to be standing shoulder to shoulder with our sporting partners in backing this important message.”

Jonny Petrie, Chief Executive of Ulster Rugby echoed his counterparts’ sentiments: “Ulster Rugby is proud to support the ‘Foster for Your Community’ programme, and we encourage our network of volunteers, coaches, players – and those who are supporters of the professional game – to consider whether they could open their home to a child or young person in need of safe and loving foster care.

“A sense of community is at the heart of our sport, which was showcased throughout the pandemic, so we hope that today will act as the catalyst for many new carers from across Northern Ireland coming forward, as we join forces with Ulster GAA, the Irish FA, as well as the NI Sports Forum, to support this important new partnership.”

Foster care can range from short term support to longer term care so there are different ways you can help depending on your lifestyle and family circumstances.

HSC NI Foster Care welcome enquiries from all walks of life regardless of marital or employment status, home ownership status, or whether you have children of your own. As a HSC foster carer you are never on your own. We are here every step of the way through the process. We will provide you with a comprehensive training programme to help you in your role and provide you with fostering allowances, 24-hour social work support and much more.

To find out how you could give a child a brighter future please call 0800 0720 137 or visit www.adoptionandfostercare.hsnci.net