Young People Recognised at VOYPIC Care Day 24 Awards

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Young people in and leaving care all over Northern Ireland celebrated as part of the annual Care Day campaign, organised by local children’s charity, VOYPIC

Young people from across Northern Ireland, with lived experience of care, have been celebrated at the first annual Care Day Awards, held in Queen’s University on Friday 16 February.

The awards recognise the outstanding contribution and achievements of care experienced young people, across a range of categories. The ceremony was hosted by BBC journalist, Mark Simpson, with entertainment by Amy McIntyre.

A special video message was played out on the night from Health Minister, Robin Swann MLA. Presenters included NI Commissioner for Children and Young People, Chris Quinn, as well as representatives from the Department of Health, Queen’s University Belfast, and VOYPIC.

Care Day is the world’s biggest celebration of children and young people with care experience. This group includes children and young people who are or were cared for by foster carers, or other family members, and those who live in children’s homes.

Care Day in the UK and Ireland is a joint initiative across five children’s rights charities, and led in Northern Ireland by VOYPIC – Voice of Young People in Care.

Prize Winners:

Community Champion

Recognising a young person who has made an outstanding contribution to their community, either their local community or the care experienced community, over the past year.


Viki Balciunaite (21, Newry)

Highly commended

Jay Hart (15, Derry)

Danny McNulty (18, Enniskillen)


Student of the Year

Recognising the achievement of a young person in education or training, be that an academic achievement or an achievement in their own personal development in education.


Blaine Stockman (19, Derry)

Highly commended

Abdifatah Hussein (18, Belfast)

Shauna Turley (20, Newry)


Wellbeing Champion

Recognising the contribution of a young person to improving the health and wellbeing of others in their community.


Katie Dickson (16, Ballymena)

Highly commended

Jo Patterson (20, Derry)

The Data Research Advisors Group: Ash, Esla, Martha & Rhianna (18-25, Belfast)


Rising Star in Employment

Recognising the achievements of a young person in employment, including part-time employment.


Anna Mae Morrison (20, Derry)

Highly commended

Saoirse McGuigan (21, Belfast)

Natalie Liggett (21, Portadown)


Social Action Champion

Recognising the achievement of a young person (or group of young people) who has taken action that led to social change within their community.


UNCRC Champions (Regional group coordinated by Children’s Law Centre)

Highly commended

The Switch Group (Ballymena based group, coordinated by VOYPIC

James and Rian (NI Court Guardian Agency Youth Forum)


Care Hero Award

Recognising a special contribution made by an adult, either to a young person in care, a group of young people in care, or the care experienced community as a whole, in Northern Ireland.


Ryan Thompson (care experienced STAY Supported Lodging Host, Lurgan)

Highly commended

Mandy Carlisle (posthumous award, Support Worker in Children’s Home, Newry)

Pamela McCambley (posthumous award, Dee Street Over 55s Club, Belfast)


Spirit of VOYPIC

Recognising a young person who embodies the VOYPIC values, and has been an excellent ambassador for the organisation and all VOYPIC stands for. [Three awards presented]

Esla Ibrahim (19, Belfast)

Brandan Magee (16, Belfast)

Matthew McGrotty (20, Derry)


Special Recognition Award

Recognising the multiple achievements and/or contributions of a young person to the care experienced community over a period of 3 or more years. [Three awards presented]

Katie Hegarty Biggerstaff (23, Belfast)

Martha McCallin (25, Belfast)

Caothan McBride (23, Belfast)

Alicia Toal, Chief Executive of VOYPIC, congratulated the winners on their success.

“Care Day is all about celebrating and connecting the care experienced community. While the achievements of young people should be celebrated every day, today gives us the opportunity to focus attention on the richness they bring to our communities, right across Northern Ireland.

“We were inundated with nominations, each telling a unique story of triumph, more-often-than-not, in the face of adversity. The judges had to make some very tough decisions about who got the awards, but I was heartened to be reminded that our care experienced community includes some amazing, strong, and determined young people.”

VOYPIC, created in 1993 by a group of young people in care and professionals, is working together with children and young adults for a better care experience and life after care. The organisation wants to ensure that every child in care in Northern Ireland feels safe, valued and loved, and every young person leaving care does so with dignity and respect, and thrives into adulthood.

CARE DAY in the UK and Ireland is a joint initiative across five children’s rights charities, and is led in Northern Ireland by VOYPIC.

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