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Foster Care Fortnight and Foster Walk gets an Olympic Boost

24th May 2024

During Foster Care Fortnight, Fatima Whitbread MBE, Olympic athlete and a champion for care experienced children, took on this year’s Foster Walk challenge alongside boosting The Fostering Network’s campaign for support.

Foster Care Fortnight is the charity’s annual UK-wide campaign designed to raise the profile of fostering and highlight how foster care transforms lives.

Fatima took part in four back-to-back Foster Walk events across the UK over the last two weeks, with one taking place in Derry/ Londonderry yesterday.

She joined a walk across the Peace Bridge to Ebrington, returning to Guildhall Square accompanied by The Fostering Network, HSC NI foster carers and their families, friends, supporters and fostering staff withFatima Whitbread MBE in the Western area, to raise awareness of the importance of foster care and the need for more people to foster.

Fatima also attended the NI Civil Service Sports Association in Belfast today, meeting the Children’s Commissioner, Chris Quinn and spent some time with young people currently in foster care, their foster carers, care experienced young people and HSC NI fostering staff within the Belfast and South Eastern areas.

Fatima shared her positive experiences of foster care and how it was transformative in her life, contributing to her determination to become a world class Olympian. She spent some time with the children inside and shared her Javelin throwing tips in the grounds outside.

Eimear Hanna, Head of Service, HSC NI Foster Care said: “We’re delighted that Fatima is visiting Northern Ireland and championing the importance of foster care and the need for more foster carers. There’s a natural fit between fostering and sport as both promote the wellbeing and development of children and young people to optimise their opportunities in life. We have an ongoing partnership with key sporting organisations who are helping to spread the word about fostering within their sporting communities. Being involved in sport is very important for young people’s physical and mental wellbeing, for their sense of identity and belonging. We have children and young people in foster care who already benefit hugely from sport. We want children to remain within their own communities, where possible, so we need more people to come forward and consider fostering.”

Kathleen Toner, Director of The Fostering Network said: “It has been wonderful having Fatima support Foster Care Fortnight this year across the UK. Her personal story of being in care is so powerful and drives her passion to ensure every child has the best start in life possible. Sharing this message in NI is central to encouraging others to consider fostering.”

During her visit Fatima spoke of her support for Foster Care Fortnight. She said: “I have first-hand experience of how foster care can change lives. That’s why I’m dedicated to building a better future for those in the care system. I know change is possible when people come together to work for a shared vision.

“Every child deserves the right to a safe and happy childhood. Where I found my true authentic self was through sport, and that was my saviour.

“It was my privilege to meet with and celebrate fostering families during my visit to Derry/ Londonderry and Belfast. I would encourage more of the local community to come forward and consider becoming foster carers to make a real difference to the lives of children and young people.”

To find out how you could become part of HSC NI Foster Care’s fostering community, call 0800 0720 137 or complete our online enquiry form