Bangor Foster Carer Receives Award


On Saturday, Julie McWhinney, a foster carer for the last eight years with the Trust, was presented with The Fostering Network’s Excellence in Foster Care Award at the annual Northern Ireland Foster Care Awards.

Julie decided to foster when she was just a child herself, inspired by her neighbour who fostered a baby Julie spent time playing with. She decided to pursue her dream of becoming a foster carer several years later and now fosters together with her husband Stephen.

The couple are currently looking after teenagers aged twelve to 17. To provide everyone with their own space Julie and Stephen have remodelled their house several times. They approach their caring roles as a team and create a strong sense of family in their household.

Fostering can be challenging but also very rewarding. According to Julie, the rewards are many and often simple. ‘It can be an unexpected hug, or an “I love you”, or seeing a long-term change in a child’s life.’

Janice Hill, Julie’s social worker form South Eastern Trust who nominated her, said: ‘Julie has an innate ability to engage with children and young people. She addresses each child’s need with enthusiasm and creativity and has a deep understanding and lots of compassion for the children she looks after.’

Kathleen Toner, director of The Fostering Network in Norther Ireland, said: ‘Julie is a remarkable foster carer who, along with Stephen, has provided a loving and stable home to many children. Julie goes the extra mile for all the young people that come to live with her and enables them to flourish. We are so pleased that she had that encounter with a foster carer at such a young age and are delighted to honour her contribution with our Excellence in Foster Care award.’

Una Carragher, manager of the Regional Adoption and Fostering Service, said: ‘Julie personifies the commitment and caring nature we look for when recruiting foster carers. The Northern Ireland Foster Care Awards provide an opportunity for Health and Social Care Trusts to celebrate the enormous contribution that foster carers make to the lives of our children and young people across Northern Ireland. Congratulations to Julie on this much deserved win.’

Julie is pictured with Kathleen Toner (Fostering Network) & Una Carragher (Regional Adoption & Fostering Service)