A young couple from Lisburn have been named The Fostering Network’s Northern Ireland Kinship Carers of the Year 2018.
Chelsea Noble (22) and Patrick Sojka (23), who have been kinship carers for Chelsea’s five-year-old sister for the last two-and-a-half years, received their award at a glittering ceremony held in the Hilton Hotel, Belfast.
Before they became full-time kinship foster carers, the couple had been saving money to start a new life in Australia. But when they found themselves looking after a toddler, Chelsea and Patrick didn’t hesitate. With the support of her employers, Chelsea reduced her working hours so that she could devote more time to her caring role.
Recently, Chelsea and Patrick have decided to use the money they had saved for their travels to put a deposit on a family home for the three of them and their two dogs, making them feel like “a real family now”.
The interview panel who made the award said they were “humbled by Chelsea and Patrick’s positive attitude, their total commitment to the child they look after and their love for her and each other.”
Chelsea and Patrick were nominated for the award by their social worker, Seana Hamill from the Belfast Trust.
Kathleen Toner, director of The Fostering Network in Northern Ireland, said: “We received a record number of nominations for our awards and we were truly inspired by the commitment, passion and dedication of all the foster carers we met.
“Chelsea and Patrick’s quiet, calm approach to their kinship role, their maturity despite their young age, and their knowledge and ability to look after the child in their care stood out to us. They are truly representative of all that is positive about fostering.”
The Foster Carer of the Year Awards evening took place during The Fostering Network’s Foster Care Fortnight (May 14 - 27).
The annual campaign celebrates the fantastic work of the more than 2,000 foster and kinship foster families in Northern Ireland, and shines a spotlight on the need for additional foster families.
For more information about fostering log on to www.thefosteringnetwork.org.uk/couldyoufoster