Derry MLA Maeve McLaughlin has a parental responsibility towards young people in care, the chief executive of charity Voypic has said.
Vivian McConvey was speaking as the local politician spent the day hearing the views of young people at the Derry Voypic office.
“This is about having a conversation and giving young people a voice,” said Vivian McConvey.
“Maeve sits on one of the most committees for children in care and that’s health,” she said. “These children are looked after by the system which is the corporate parent.
“Maeve has a parental responsibility to these young people. What does any good parent do, but talk to their children. Have the conversation. As a parent politicians should be talking to these young people. Then when something comes across Maeve’s desk in relation to care, she has had the conversation in relation to this with young people.”
Maeve McLaughlin previously worked for a day as a social worker and said spending the day with the young people at Voypic was important to her.
“I felt it was important to spend the day with Voypic and understand the service that is delivered and most importantly hear from the young people,” she said. “There are 2857 children in care in the north of Ireland and there is an increasing amount of children in the Western Trust area.
“I thought I had a responsibility to understand the issues and there are no better people to tell you than the young people themselves.
“A number of issues have been highlighted such as the concerns from young people about how they participate in society, how the transition takes place from care to supported accommodation, and issues about how their personal plans are developed while they are in care.
“The young people are very clear that they want their voices to be listened to.”
Vivian McConvey chief executive of Voypic (Voice of Young People in Care) explained that the charity is now 21 years-old and aims to help young people in care or leaving care to have a say in decisions.
She said the charity runs a number of programmes including mentoring, advocacy and participation. Last year, in their Western area services alone, VOYPIC worked with over 130 young people.