The Minister for Health supports the launch of a call to find homes for young refugees arriving in Northern Ireland without parents or guardians.
HSCNI Foster Care is looking for more foster carers and residential homes that can provide care and support to young refugees.
This comes after a marked increase in the number of young refugees arriving in Northern Ireland. Last year, more than 60 young refugees were taken into care, which is the largest number in history and is expected to increase.
Most of the young refugees arriving without a family are teenagers aged 14-17, and many would like to be cared for in the family.
Foster carers take care of children of all ages, while supportive housing is a type of semi-independent housing where a young person over the age of 16 lives in the home of a host family or individual.
Health Minister Robin Swan said: “We can only imagine how difficult it is for children and young people arriving in Northern Ireland without a family. It is important to increase the number of foster carers and supported homes so we can guarantee that young people in these conditions get the stability and care they deserve.
“There is no typical educator – foster carers and homeowners come from all walks of life. We encourage anyone who thinks they can open their home for a child or young person to speak up and register their interest.”
The health minister recently met with Linsa Lynch, a mother of three who has been raising a young refugee woman for two years. Lincy said: “Lola * (* her real name) came to Northern Ireland without parents or adults to care for her in hopes of finding a better life. I was more than happy to open our home to her.
“It was a new experience for Lola and our family. In the early days, finding ways to communicate was a priority, as Lola needed time to understand English.
“Two years later, she is a bright young woman who appreciates being part of our family, she has also given us a lot. We learned about her country of birth, culture and food, which are very important for her. “
Catherine Cassidy, deputy director of the Health and Welfare Board, said: “Young refugees living with foster carers or supported housing owners are thriving with the opportunity to experience family life, education and sport in the local community.
“It is right that we are doing our best to protect young refugees by finding a safe home where they can feel cared for and supported to fully unleash their potential.”
Najibullah, now 18, arrived in Northern Ireland in September 2019. He said: “I appreciate all the support and opportunities I have received here, which has allowed me to study engineering and work as a translator.”
Una Carragher, chief social worker, HSC NI Foster Care said: “HSC NI Foster Care is very much appreciated by Lincy and all the families who spoke out about caring for young refugees. Najibullah reiterates the gratitude we hear from young refugees who have come here. We want to assure everyone who comes to the aid of these young people that we will give them full training and support.We especially welcome families from many ethnic minority communities. worldwide Northern Ireland. If you have any questions or inquiries, please contact us. We look forward to speaking with you. “