Yorkshire Times
Voice of the North
4:21 AM 24th October 2019

Yorkshire Residents Among Winners At National Fostering Awards

Ibu Mohammed from York
Ibu Mohammed from York
Yorkshire winners received two of the prizes on offer at the annual Fostering Excellence Awards in London yesterday.

Ibu Mohammed from York and Fiona Johnson from Keighley were both winners at The Fostering Network’s annual event which celebrates achievements from the fostering community across the UK.

Ibu, who won the Outstanding Achievement Award, came to the UK in January 2018 as an unaccompanied asylum seeker without any spoken English. He enrolled in English lessons before starting college in September 2018 where he received Student of the Year for foundation English.

He has also been asked to work with his local authority – City of York Council – on a new mentoring scheme for fostered children who have come to the country unaccompanied and seeking asylum.

Ibu, who is still living with his former foster carers under a staying put arrangement, has also been asked to work with his local authority – City of York Council – on a new mentoring scheme for fostered children who arrived in the country unaccompanied and seeking asylum.

‘Don’t mess up the opportunities you get given. Hard work, time and patience are the keys.’

Joanne Battson, Ibu’s foster carer who nominated him, said: ‘He enriches our life by showing anything is possible if you work to achieve it. He is a pleasure to have in our home and is a huge part of our family.’

Fiona Johnson from Keighley
Fiona Johnson from Keighley
Fiona, who won the Outstanding Contribution by a Foster Carer Award, had considered fostering for several years and eventually became a foster carer with North Yorkshire County Council five years ago.

One of the first children Fiona welcomed into her home came with big challenges and mental health difficulties but using a number of creative approaches, Fiona paved the way for the young person to live an independent and happy life. For example, when her young person wanted to try swimming but was afraid to show themselves in a swimming costume, Fiona bought them an all-in-one costume and a matching one for herself, so they didn’t feel singled out.

Fiona said: ‘I feel very honoured to have received this award and I am very touched that Jade should have nominated me. There must be so many other foster carers out there who deserve this kind of recognition. I feel very lucky.’

Jade, one of the young people fostered by Fiona long term, said: ‘Thanks to Fiona’s loving embrace and guidance I am confident and able to love myself and build lasting relationships. Every step of the way, she fought for me. I am proud and honoured to call her my mother and one of my best friends.’

Alan Tucker, Fostering Placement Manager for Fostering North Yorkshire, said: ‘I am absolutely delighted that Fiona has won this award – she has always been prepared to go the “extra mile” for the young people in her care – and it is all the more special that she was nominated for the award by Jade, a quite remarkable young woman in her own right.’

Kevin Williams, chief executive of The Fostering Network, said: ‘The experience of Ibu and Fiona shows how fostering can have a hugely positive impact on the lives of those involved and how, given a loving, stable environment in which to grow, children and young people can thrive.

‘All our winners and the wider fostering community, should can be incredibly proud of their achievements and contributions in making foster care in the UK the very best it can be.’

The Fostering Excellence Awards are the UK’s most prestigious foster care awards which celebrate outstanding achievement in fostering and recognise those who make exceptional contributions to foster care every day.

The Fostering Network is the UK’s leading fostering charity. They are the essential network for fostering, bringing together everyone who is involved in the lives of fostered children.

Over 65,000 children live with almost 55,000 foster families across the UK each day. An estimated 8,600 new foster families (550 in Wales) are needed across the UK over the next 12 months alone to provide stable, secure and loving homes for fostered children.