Former boxing world champion, Carl Frampton has led a host of well- known celebrities in wishing the Southern Health & Social Care Trust’s Foster Carers a happy Christmas as well as paying tribute to the vital work they have been doing with vulnerable young people during the pandemic.
The two-weight champ was joined by darts legend, Phil ‘The Power’ Taylor, Dame Mary Peters, ex-Ireland rugby skipper, Rory Best, GAA great, Oisin McConville and former Northern Ireland footballer, Jim Magilton.
Comedian John Linehan, musicians Daniel O’Donnell, Susan McCann and media personality Frank Mitchell also joined in the well-wishes for the Trust’s Foster Carers.
Each celeb recorded a short clip thanking the carers for all they have done during a very challenging 2020. The videos have been released each day on the Trust’s social media platforms.
Melanie Coffey who is a manager in the Trust’s Family Placement Service and who works in Fostering and Adoption services organised the video messages said: “This has been a challenging year for our Foster Carers but, as they always do, they have gone above and beyond in the care of the young people they look after.
“We wanted to make sure they know just how much we appreciate the work that they do. We were delighted that so many well-known celebrities took the time to wish our carers a happy Christmas and to pay tribute to the work they are doing.”
Meanwhile, the number of children coming into the care system in Northern Ireland has risen to an all-time high.
With many families at breaking point from living through a global pandemic, there has been a surge in the numbers of children needing Foster care.
A decade ago, the number of children in care in Northern Ireland was just over 2000 but today there are approximately 3,400 and of that figure around 2,800 young people are cared for by Foster families.
The spiralling numbers has led to an urgent appeal right across Northern Ireland for more Foster carers to come forward.
Colm McCaffery Assistant Director Children’s Services, Southern Health and Social Care Trust said: “We recognise that these are unsettling, unprecedented and challenging times for everyone – not least those involved in caring for and supporting children in Foster care.
“We are extremely grateful to all those who provide support and stability to children and young people in Foster care. In order to successfully care for children in a safe and nurturing environment we urgently need to increase our numbers of Foster carers.
“If you feel you have space in your home and you are interested in positively shaping the circumstances for vulnerable young people and children then we very much want to hear from you right away.
“If Fostering is something you have previously thought about, now is a critical time to make that enquiry and take it further.”
As well as issuing a plea for more carers to come forward, Mr McCafferty paid tribute to the Foster carers who have provided a real lifeline for the young people in their care during the pandemic.
“With a high level of support and creativity, Foster carers have been able to maintain essential placements for children and young people and provide an invaluable service for the community whilst at the same time making themselves, their families and homes available to children who, for many different reasons, can no longer remain with their own parents/families.”
There are different types of Fostering from short term/emergency to long-term Fostering that offers lifelong relationships.
The children range in age from 0-18 years and Trusts often request placements for sibling groups. Some children require support which does not differ hugely from the average child whilst others need people who are available and will work to understand their behaviours and what they might be trying to communicate.
For some of the more specialist placements a fee is offered as part of the support package. There are also opportunities to support families caring for children with a disability via the provision of overnight short breaks or caring for young people and children who are seeking asylum.
What does remain common across these different areas is how much Foster carers are valued within the health trusts and how they will be supported in becoming part of a team in meeting the needs of a child placed with them.
To find out more about Fostering in Northern Ireland visit www.adoptionandfostercare.hscni.net.