The head of a charity in Derry has spoken publicly for the first time about the brother and sister she has never met.
Jacqueline Williamson, the founder and CEO of Derry charity ‘Kinship Care’, has revealed that, following the recent announcement of her MBE in the New Year Honours, she was contacted by relatives of a sister she has never met.
At the same time, Jacqueline has issued an appeal to help her find a brother who she has never met and who she now wants to make contact with.
Jacqueline Williamson was one of a family of four children, all of whom entered the care system or were adopted at a young age. Jacqueline grew up in care and experienced homelessness before going on to achieve extraordinary success including setting up Kinship Care, which now supports young people across Northern Ireland who are being looked after by relatives and their carers.
Jacqueline was recognised in this year’s New Year’s Honours List for her work on behalf of children and carers.
She told the ‘Journal’ that relatives of the sister she has never met had seen news about her MBE online and subsequently made contact with her.
“The MBE was amazing, but I can’t believe that this has come out of it.
“I’m still in total shock.” she said.
“She is living in Northern Ireland and I’m hoping that I’ll get to see a photograph of her soon.”
It was five years ago that Jacqueline first discovered she had a brother and sister who she had yet to meet. However, she decided not to pursue the search for them at that time because she was dealing with the tragic death of her other sister, Karen.
However, prompted by the contact made in recent weeks, she has now issued an appeal to find her brother, Joseph Williamson, who was born in Belfast in April 1969 to Patricia Williamson.
“I know that he is still alive and I know he’s out there somewhere. I think the time is right to find him and I really hope I can,” she continued.
“If he has ever seen his birth certificate, which most people have to at some point, even for a passport application, I’m hoping he’ll recognise himself from these details and we can take it from there. A few years ago, when I learned that these siblings existed out there somewhere, I was still going through the grief process having lost my sister Karen.
“It wasn’t the right time to actively pursue it at that time. I’m not trying to get ahead of myself and I know that this is the start of a long journey, but I think after all this time, I’m ready to take those first steps.”