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  • Writer's pictureLove Ballymena

Mayor of MEA hosts young people for ‘Care Day’ breakfast

Mayor of Mid and East Antrim, Ald Geradine Mulvenna, with Madison (17) and Makyla (18) from VOYPIC, at the Care Day Breakfast

Mayor of Mid and East Antrim, Ald Geradine Mulvenna, with Madison (17) and Makyla (18) from VOYPIC, at the Care Day Breakfast

On the run-up to Care Day 2024 (Friday 16 February), Mayor of Mid and East Antrim Alderman Gerardine Mulvenna, welcomed young people with lived experience of care to the Braid.

Care Day is the world’s biggest celebration of children and young people with care experience. This group includes children and young people who are or were cared for by foster carers, or other family members, and those who live in children’s homes.

Care Day in the UK and Ireland is a joint initiative across five children’s rights charities and led in Northern Ireland by VOYPIC – Voice of Young People in Care.

Young people from across the Borough joined Alderman Mulvenna as the Mayor kicked off the celebrations for young people in the Mid and East Antrim area.

Speaking after the event, Mayor Alderman Gerardine Mulvenna said:

“I was delighted to celebrate Care Day with this wonderful group of people and welcome them to the Braid. Care Day is a global celebration of the rights of children and young people with experience of care. It was great to get together with VOYPIC and chat to young people who have experienced care in NI – listening to their thoughts and ideas and gaining their perspectives on the care system.”

The latest figures show that there are almost 4000 children and young people in care in Northern Ireland. This is more than at any point since the introduction of the Children (NI) Order 1995.

More than 80% of children in care live with a foster carer or a member of their extended family. About 7% live in residential children’s homes.

Over 350 young people, aged 16-18 years old, left care in the year to March 2023.

There are 774 children in care in the Northern Health and Social Care Trust area, accounting for about a fifth of all young people in care in Northern Ireland.

Iain Black, VOYPIC Northern Area Manager, thanked the Mayor for showing support for children and young people with lived experience of care.

“We thank the Mayor for hosting this reception, in a sign of support for the children and young people in and leaving care across the region.

“It is important to remember, not just on Care Day but throughout the year, that we all share a responsibility for ensuring care experienced young people feel safe and valued in our community, and that their voice is heard.” he said.

Among the young people attending was Madison, a 17-year-old VOYPIC Young Rep from Ballymena. She said:

“Thanks to the Mayor for welcoming VOYPIC and giving us an opportunity to explain the importance of Care Day - and for giving the young people in care an opportunity to be heard.

“I think Care Day is an important way to celebrate everything that young people have done, and it gives us a safe space to feel free.

“There are young people like me, with experience of care, here in Ballymena, in Mid and East Antrim, and across Northern Ireland. It is good that the Mayor is showing her support for us.”

Alicia Toal, Chief Executive of VOYPIC, commented:

“Care Day is an opportunity for all of society to find out more about these remarkable young people and ask what more we can do to ensure their rights are protected and their voices are heard.

“This Care Day young people from across Northern Ireland will come together as a community to connect and support each other in the spirit of friendship and fun, whilst challenging the stigma faced by care experienced people across the world.”

VOYPIC, created in 1993 by a group of young people in care and professionals, is working together with children and young adults for a better care experience and life after care. The organisation wants to ensure that every child in care in Northern Ireland feels safe, valued and loved, and every young person leaving care does so with dignity and respect, and thrives into adulthood.


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