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Here’s how we’ve been marking national Care Day

Ciaran McQuillan, Learning & Participation officer at the MAC with young care leavers involved in our work.
Ciaran McQuillan, Learning & Participation officer at the MAC with young care leavers involved in our work.

YOUNG people involved in our Give & Take Scheme: Core and Employability Service have been taking part in different activities to mark Northern Ireland's first ever Care Day on February 19 2016.

Today Dean, 18 from Belfast, started his job as a support service assistant at Musgrave Park Hospital. Dean, involved with our Employability Service in the Belfast Trust, is the sixth young person in 18 months to have secured a ring-fenced post within the Patient Client Support Service Department with the Belfast Trust.

Tanya, a former Employability Service (and Aiming Higher)participant, was up at the crack of dawn to join Marcella Leonard from the NI Association of Social Workers in the BBC Radio Ulster studio. Tanya lived in foster care from age 8 and feels very lucky to have had such a positive experience with a family who loved and treated her as their own.

Young people from our Give & Take Scheme in South Eastern area and Belfast took part in a superhero-themed comic workshop at The Mac, facilitated by Revolve Comics. This workshop is the first of two, which will help the young people achieve an accredited Arts Award.

Give & Take Scheme participant Jemma, said:

"It was really good learning how to draw faces properly and where to put the eyes, nose and mouth and stuff. Danny from Revolve made it easy to understand and showed us how to draw all the different things. I drew a superhero who was invisible and had super strength.

"It's definitely good to have Care Day because not everyone in care is recognised as being good and having good potential," she added.

Our Northern Trust group enjoyed an extended lunch at Bob & Berts in Ballymena this week to celebrate all the new skills gained while on the Scheme, including their Essential Skills qualifications and employability and personal development achievements.

Jennie Robinson, Employability Worker in Ballymena, said:

"We had a great afternoon chatting together, laughing together but most importantly taking a time out to acknowledge all the friendships formed and the different ways in which we support and encourage each other on the Give & Take Scheme."

The South Eastern Trust group took part in a session looking at celebrities who had been in care, in particular they were drawn to the life stories of Mariyln Monroe, Mike Tyson, 50cent and Eddie Murphy. Some were really surprised to learn that the people they idolized had gone through some of the things they went through.

Young people at our Derry office brainstormed what the ideal children's home would look like based on their own experience of residential care. The group made up of Courtney, Connor, Coalhin, Shauna, Ricky, Daryl and Lauren are going to put their ideas into a report so that others can read it. In the meantime, here are a few of the things they'd like to see in children's homes:

  • Smaller numbers of young people in the homes;
  • Only staff with care duties onsite;
  • Visitors and other guests allocated set time-slots that won't be as disrupting the young people's day;
  • More group activities and workshops on budgeting skills and independent living;
  • Joint decision-making opportunities between staff and young people;
  • Individual and tailored support for each young person in the home;
  • Access to the internet and support to use it safely.

Next Tuesday our Southern Trust group are off out for dinner together in Armagh to help welcome a new participant onto the Scheme.

And Include Youth launched our 100% Employment Opportunities for Northern Ireland Care Leavers' research report with Business in the Community, because we know YOUNG PEOPLE IN CARE WANT TO WORK.

Happy Care Day everyone, we'll definitely need a full year to rest before the next one.