Five charities representing children in care and care leavers have joined together to connect and support these young people to influence policy and bring about change across the UK and Ireland. Supported by a £499,745 grant from the Big Lottery Fund, 5 Nations, 1 Voice brings together VOYPIC (Northern Ireland), Who Cares? Scotland, Who Cares? Trust (England), Voices from Care (Wales) and EPIC (Ireland).
5 Nations, 1 Voice is creating opportunities for young people in care and care leavers to build supportive networks with their peers, both face to face and online, and increase the confidence and resilience. It will advocate for increased protection for care-experienced people in law and ensure that they are integral to shaping policy that affects them, including measures that introduce more stability and security into their lives.
Marking the launch of 5 Nations, 1 Voice, Friday 19th February 2016 is #CareDay. A range of activities are taking place across Northern Ireland to celebrate the achievements of children in care and care leavers are taking place and Alex Cowan from Ballymena is spending the day with Koulla Yiasouma, the Commissioner for Children and Young People, at NICCY, as part of #CareDay.
Alex was seven when he came into care. He moved between foster care placements before settling long term with his very first foster carers.
“I live in Ballymena along with my foster parents Irene and Thomas Todd and I have been breathing for 17 years. I go to Ballymena Academy where I am lower sixth. My subjects are Biology, Chemistry, R.E. and Classical civilisation.
“I enjoy reading and listening to music, like many people, but I also enjoy playing tennis and other sports. I am aiming, in the future, to become a social worker so that I can help people less fortunate than most.”
When Alex reflects on his own experience of living in care, he’s clear that the long-term relationship with his social worker was key to helping him settle with his foster carers. As he says:
“The social worker is the person who doesn’t change when a child moves from family to family and so a child will grow attached to them and look up to them.”
Alex has become involved with VOYPIC as part of Care Day and is looking forward to spending time in NICCY. He’s keen to find out from Koulla what she’s already done for children in care and how she might develop that work further.