The Derry woman behind a walk to Stormont to raise awareness for the Kinship Care charity says she’s been bowled over by the response of passers by on the mammoth 86 mile trek.
Jacqueline Williamson, founder of Kinship Care NI, left Derry on foot on Thursday morning with a number of other walkers to raise awareness of the charity which reaches out to family members looking after children within their own family group who might otherwise go into care.
Earlier in the week, the organisation was boosted by the news that it’s one of 14 charities across the North set to benefit from £4.5m Big Lottery funding.
Speaking yesterday from Toome, Jacqueline said the spirit among the walkers was high ahead of the final leg of the epic journey which would see them walk from the Castledawson Roundabout to Antrim, covering a grand total of 19 miles.
Today more walkers will join the Kinship Team ahead of the final stages of the journey before the team is greated at Stormont on Monday by the First Minister, Deputy First Minister and Health Minister.
Jacqueline told the Sunday Journal: “It’s tough going but the banter is great and we all know why we’re here. It’s about raising awareness for all those kinship carers who do such hard work and have no voice to represent them. The more we walk and the more publicity the organisation gets, we hope the less isolated that will make people feel. After all, kinship carers do what they do out of love for the children in their own family, who would otherwise, be entered into the care system.
“We’re delighted with what we’ve achieved so far on the walk, despite having very sore feet!
“Even as we’re walking we’re getting phonecalls from people who’ve seen us in the media and who are opening up about the fact that they are kinship carers. We’re also extremely pleased that the ministers will greet us at Stormont and that we can further raise awareness with them at a government level.”
Averaging a mile every 17 minutes, Jacqueline and her supporters are hoping to arrive at Stormont tomorrow morning at 11am, having completed their 86 mile trek.
“We’ve been very lucky,” she says. “The weather has been fantastic and the support of everyone online and beeping their horns as they pass us on the road has really kept us going.”