The Irish Football Association has teamed up with other sports bodies and health authorities in Northern Ireland to promote foster care.
A new partnership has been formed between Health and Social Care NI Foster Care and key sporting organisations to encourage more people to “foster for your community”.
Health Minister Robin Swann met with the chief executives of the Irish Football Association, Ulster GAA, Ulster Rugby and the NI Sports Forum to endorse the new partnership and officially launch the relationship between HSC NI Foster Care and sport.
There are currently more than 2,800 children and young people living in foster care in Northern Ireland. With an increase in the number of children and young people requiring foster care year on year, and a downturn in people coming forward to foster, HSC NI Foster Care urgently needs more foster carers.
It said the sports bodies share common interests with HSC NI Foster Care in that they seek to promote the wellbeing and development of Northern Ireland’s youth and optimise their potential and life opportunities.
The importance of families, a sense of community spirit and teamwork also feature heavily in their ethoses, it noted.
Health Minister Robin Swann said: “My sincere thanks to our foster carers for the selfless role they play. They are to be commended for the incredible work that they do and this year has been extremely challenging.
“The pandemic has meant that foster carers have coped with the increased levels of anxiety and pressure, keeping children occupied, managing home schooling and generally supporting children and young people.
“I welcome the added support from the key sporting organisations championing the recruitment of more foster carers in Northern Ireland to care for and support our children and young people.”
Kerrylee Weatherall, co-director lead for HSC NI Foster Care, said: “We are delighted that the key sporting organisations in Northern Ireland have committed to championing the need for recruiting more foster carers and helping us spread the word about fostering to all communities in Northern Ireland.
“We need caring, compassionate people from a range of backgrounds to come forward and provide foster homes across Northern Ireland. Every child in foster care deserves to have a happy, loving and safe home they can call their own, with a family who will be there for them in good times and in difficult times, and ultimately help them achieve their potential in life.”
Irish FA chief executive Patrick Nelson said: “There has never been a more important time to support the young people of Northern Ireland. And we know that the power of sport can help make that connection, so we’re delighted to be standing shoulder to shoulder with our sporting partners in backing this important message.”
For further information on fostering please call 0800 0720 137 or visit www.adoptionandfostercare.hsnci.net