As part of our Love Without Limits Campaign that we are running in the lead up to Care Day 2021, we wanted to talk to different organisations who champion and support the incredible children in care.
VOYPIC is the charity for children and young people with a lived experience of care in Northern Ireland. Read on to find out a bit more about what they do and Jo Irvine's message of hope for children in care!
1. Who are you and what is your role in VOYPIC?
My name is Jo Irvine and I am the Engagement Development Worker. I have been involved with VOYPIC for over 20 years
2. Can you tell us a bit more about who VOYPIC are and what your own job entails?
VOYPIC is the charity for children and young people with lived experience of care in Northern Ireland. Created in 1993 by a group of young people in care and the professionals that supported them, VOYPIC has almost 30 years of experience promoting the rights and voice of children in care and care leavers.
We want every child to have a safe, stable and positive experience of care, and to be involved in the decisions about their life. We support young people through three main areas of work; Advocacy, Participation, and Influencing Change.
Up until the start of this year, I was a VOYPIC Youth Rights Worker in the Belfast area. That role involved supporting young people to have their voice heard, attending young people’s meetings, and helping them express their views and opinions to those that can effect change.
I even supported some young people to meet with Dave when he was starting Madlug up so they could give their views and opinions!
My current role is supporting a group of young people to gather the views and opinions of other care experienced young people around the impact of the Covid-19. In the next few months, I will be working in partnership with them to co-produce standards for young people’s meetings.
3. Why did you choose to work here/ what was your motivation for working for an organisation that champions and supports children in care?
I became involved with VOYPIC as a young person. I really believed in the work that they were doing and wanted to get involved, so I joined their steering group. Fast forward 25 years, and I am as passionate about the work as ever.
I love meeting the young people and listening to what they have to say, supporting them so that the right people hear what they have to say. I love learning about the young people’s talents and getting to watch them grow as individuals. But mostly, I love the fact that the young people tell me about their lives, and I get to see first-hand how the work that VOYPIC does is making real difference and changing lives.
4. Is there something that you would like the general public to know about the experience of children in care?
Young people in care are there through no fault of their own. They are the same as other young people; they deal with issues like peer-pressure, bullying, mental health, education stress- all the things that young people deal with. But they also have to deal with reasons that brought them into care, and these issue can have a massive effect on them as individuals. They are just trying to navigate life like any other young person, except they deal with additional issues such as not living with their family.
5. What is your message of hope for children in care and care experienced young people?
Your care experience doesn’t define you, and it won’t define you as an adult. By getting the right support, you will be much more than a statistic.
We hope you enjoyed reading our short interview with Jo from VOYPIC! If you would like to be a part of the Love Without Limits campaign you can click here to shop our limited edition Love Without Limits tote to show your support long after Care Day this Friday and carry the message of love, value, worth and dignity for children in care.