An appeal from the Fostering Network NI (charity reg 280852) for new foster carers. Plus the Charity Commission reveals why local charities need to get registered.
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Hello. You are very welcome to Community Life.
Say hello to my co-presenter, Echo.
We'll be finding out how this happy lady
is helping her owner stay out of hospital.
it doesn't bear thinking about what would happen to me.
I could end up not here.
We'll be seeing more of Echo and her pal Beau in a moment.
Also today, we'll be hearing that
a staggering £1 billion of fundraising is gathered
in Northern Ireland every year,
and how charities must register their operations
or they could face legal action.
Registration is not optional.
If you thought you were setting up a charity and you've set up a charity,
you must come forward and tell us you exist.
Now, the Fostering Network
is urgently seeking new carers in Northern Ireland.
Our special reporter today is Holly,
and she tells us that her foster carers changed her life.
Most of us love to look at our photo albums
to remind us of our childhood.
For me, it is very special
because these are my foster parents Heather and Trevor,
and they really changed my life.
My foster parents gave me a second chance
to be part of a loving and stable home.
They've helped me build my confidence,
and have pushed me to become a better person.
But so many more foster carers are needed,
to offer the same opportunity that I had to others.
Every year, we need at least 170 new families
to come forward to foster.
In particular, we need people who could foster brothers and sisters
to keep the family together.
We need people who would be willing and able
to look after children with disabilities.
And we've a particular need for people
to look after teenagers,
to open their homes and their hearts to those children.
-So three ones are...
Sharon and her husband Mervyn
have been fostering children for 16 years.
They've helped more than 30 children,
and they have no intention of stopping there.
Sharon, could you tell me why you decided to foster?
It's lovely to see a child come into your home,
and feel that you can help them
when they're in a very difficult position in their life
and make a difference.
When children come and we take them for experiences
that they've never had before - we go to the beach
and they haven't been to the beach,
or we take them to the zoo, we go on holidays -
it helps us to see the whole world through their eyes all over again,
you experience things all over again.
I think the other thing, probably, is when we have a final outcome
that's successful, when children go back to their parents.
When they come home with a spelling test
and they got all the answers right - those things are great.
The Fostering Network is the UK's leading fostering charity.
It works to improve the lives and chances of children in foster care.
In Northern Ireland,
the Fostering Network works with all foster carers and fostering services
to improve the lives of children in care.
Well, I went into care at eight years of age,
and was in the one foster placement throughout my time.
This created a stable home environment,
as my foster carers Mary and John
encouraged me to pursue any interests and desires,
and I went on to third-level education.
And without them, I wouldn't be where I am today.
My time in foster care has been amazing.
It has changed my life in so many ways.
It has given me opportunities I never thought I would have,
and the support from my foster parents
have been the biggest influence in my life.
Josephine and Sean, they brought me into their home,
they gave me a loving family.
They believed in me whenever I didn't believe in myself,
and they gave me so much confidence
to become the person that I am today.
Diane and Deirdre are both part of a new scheme
called Step Up Step Down,
a partnership with South Eastern Trust
and funded by the Big Lottery.
They step in, when needed,
to prevent children spending time in care.
I have been a foster carer now for near ten years,
and I feel it's important to be able to work with the family intensely,
to prevent the children from going into care.
So I feel the Step Up Step Down is really important for these families.
The Fostering Network are passionate about the difference
foster care makes to children and young people.
Transforming children's lives is at the heart of everything they do.
If you think you have the skills to be a foster carer,
The Fostering Network would love to hear from you.
If you would like to learn more about becoming a foster carer,
Now, a new report from the Charity Commission shows
that more than £1 billion was raised by charities here last year.
That was by the 5,000 charities who are legally registered to operate.
But many charities remain unregistered,
so that amount could be much higher.
Almost three-quarters of NI charities
have an income of £100,000 or less.
A third have an income of £10,000 or less,
and a quarter have an income of £5,000 or less.
County Antrim is home to the most charities.
57% of our charities exist to advance education,
28% exist to advance religion
and 2% exist to advance animal welfare.
There could be as many as 17,500 charities operating here,
and the Charity Commission says
that if they want to be recognised as charities,
they must register with them or they could potentially face legal action.
We have legal processes
where we will start to go after organisations of whom we are aware.
We will potentially
order them to register,
and if they fail to do that,
we will follow legal processes against the individual trustees.
People who start up charities
have a real burning reason to want to do that.
There are a lot of charities out there
and it's not always necessary to set up a new charity.
There's probably somebody out there doing something quite similar
who would really appreciate your help,
and the resources you can bring.
But those who have the drive to set up a new charity
won't be put off by the fact that they have to be accountable
to the public, because that's just the way a charity should be run,
it SHOULD be run properly and accountably, and that's all we're asking for.
Now, how would you like to take Echo to work with you?
Well, that is exactly what Wendy Smith does,
because without an assistance dog like Echo,
she could end up in hospital.
Echo is very important and will become more important to me.
She'll be my lifeline and my early warning system,
because I am unable to tell
when my blood sugars are dropping low. So she'll warn me.
So I would look like I'm drunk to people that don't know
I have diabetes.
I would conk out, potentially, behind the wheel of a car,
so it's a very serious thing.
So what will she actually do to alert you?
She will nudge me with her nose.
Low down on my leg, if my sugars go low, and high up if they go high.
So she can even tell the difference between low blood glucose levels
and high blood glucose levels.
And if I don't respond to that,
she'll continue to alert me with a little bit more force,
maybe with her paw, and jump up on me.
And if I still don't respond, which could be the case,
she will grab somebody else and bring them to me.
Where are we going today, eh?
Go and check the squirrels?
And this is Beau, who lives with her owner in Holywood,
another Northern Ireland assistance dog
who makes sure that she monitors her blood sugar levels.
'It's been life-changing for me. I live by myself
'and I was constantly worried,
'what if this happened to me during the night,
'and I went to sleep and I slipped into a coma?
'Well, nobody... It might be a day or two'
before somebody found me.
So having a dog gives me great security.
It costs £8,000 to £10,000 during the lifetime of the dog,
and all that is raised by ourselves.
We've no Government funding,
so donations and public support
are really important to us in fundraising.
Remember, all of today's stories are on our website,
and you'll also find our community noticeboard there as well.
For now, it's goodbye from me, and it's goodbye from Echo.
I'll see you soon. Bye-bye.
An appeal from the Fostering Network NI (charity reg 280852) for new foster carers, plus the Charity Commission on why local charities need to get registered and NI Assistance Dogs explain the benefits of their service to people with diabetes.
Further information about featured charities is available at: bbc.co.uk/niappeals.