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Children’s rights charity, Voice of Young People in Care (VOYPIC), celebrates sixth annual Care Day this Friday.

Care Day 21 will call on all young people who have experience in care to join the organisation’s new membership community, MyVOYPIC, while enjoying a day-long menu of virtual events

Voice of Young People in Care (VOYPIC), a charity for children and young people with a lived experience of care in Northern Ireland, is launching MyVOYPIC Family this Friday, February 19 to coincide with its sixth annual Care Day event.

MyVOYPIC is a social community for young people up to the age of 25 who have experience of living care in Northern Ireland.

Free of charge, the scheme will allow participants to be part of a social circle that can share experiences and enjoy access to both virtual and real events, as well as regular updates about opportunities at VOYPIC.

The first 500 members to sign up will receive goodie bags, including an exclusive MyVOYPIC gift.

The initiative comes as VOYPIC, alongside four other children’s rights charities around the UK and Ireland, engage in a day-long event of fun online activities as part of Care Day 21.

Care Day this year will be slightly different as in previous years as it swaps reality for virtual activities all of which will have the underlying theme of uniting the care experienced community, at a time when we cannot all be together.

 

 

Among the online events will be poetry readings from around the UK, a live drumming event, an interactive performance by Belfast Circus School, a virtual choir and a joint activities and movie virtual party for young people in care across the UK and Ireland.

Speaking about the event this year, Alicia Toal, chief executive, VOYPIC said: “The past year has been a very challenging time for everyone, not least those who are living in or have experience of living in care, making our annual event and the theme of togetherness more poignant than ever.

“To mark what has been a very difficult time for many of the children and young people we work with and to celebrate the unity that has been ever present throughout the pandemic, we have launched our new MyVOYPIC Membership Scheme which will expand our care experienced family, providing a safe and supported space for our community to come together, share experience, make friends and have fun.”

One of those young people who will be joining the MyVOYPIC family on Friday is Curtis Robinson (13) from Belfast. He said, “I’ve been involved with VOYPIC for couple of years, and have taken part in the lots of great activities and events, both online and in the real world. VOYPIC has helped me use my voice, and have a say on being in care and the decisions that are taken.

 

Curtis Robinson (13) from Belfast, is excited to be one of the first members of the MyVOYPIC family

 

“I’m really excited to be one of the first young people to join the new scheme, MyVOYPIC. VOYPIC is all about us, the young people, and it’s really great to have a programme like this to help us get to know other young people with experience of care, right across Northern Ireland.”

The latest statistics for children in care in Northern Ireland (as of March 31, 2019 from the Department of Health) show that there are 3,281 children in care here, 79% of whom live in foster care. Four percent are currently living in residential children’s homes.

Recent research shows that there was a drop in the number of referrals to Gateway during lockdowns over the past year, followed by an increase in referrals following lockdown. The average of referrals between May and December 2020 was consistently higher than pre-Covid levels while in January 2021 the number of referrals was below pre-Covid levels.* This increase in child protection referrals is likely to translate into more children entering care when lockdown is lifted.

VOYPIC was created in 1993 by a group of young people in care and professionals. Its job is to promote the rights and voice of children in care and care leavers, working towards a society where every child in care has a safe, stable, and positive experience of care, and is involved in decisions about their life.

 

 

 

Notes to Editors:

VOYPIC’s work is made possible thanks to funding from, amongst others, the Department of Health, the National Lottery Community Fund, the Health and Social Care Board, the Paul Hamlyn Foundation, the Esmee Fairburn Foundation and Children in Need.

 

Statistics for care leavers in Northern Ireland (at 31 March 2020 – the most recent statistics from the Department of Health):

293 young people aged 16 to 18 years old

216 young people aged 19 years old

Statistics for children in care in Northern Ireland (at 31 March 2020 – the most recent statistics from the Department of Health):

Number of children in care: 3281

Proportion in foster care: 79%

Proportion in residential children’s homes: 4%

Number in each Trust area:

Belfast: 824

Northern: 663

South Eastern: 587

Southern: 560

Western: 647

Age distribution:

Under 1: 4%

1 – 4 years old: 19%

5 – 11 years old: 36%

12 – 15 years old: 26%

16 years old and over: 16%

www.voypic.org

 

 

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