Terry Fitzpatrick, the founder and director of ARC Adoption North East, receives the OBE for services to children in North East England, particularly during the Covid-19 Response.
The 62-year-old, from South Shields, has worked in the field of children’s social care for over 39 years.
ARC is an Ofsted-rated Outstanding independent Voluntary Adoption Agency whose primary mission is to increase the number of adoptive families available to vulnerable children.
From 1989 until 2013, Terry managed family placement services for the council and specifically managed the adoption service for over 24 years. During that time it gained a reputation for being one of the leading lights for adoption and fostering in the UK, and was regularly recognised with outstanding results in various inspections carried out by government agencies.
Terry’s citation said: “He has worked tirelessly to establish partnerships between voluntary adoption services and the statutory sector, helping to build collaboration and trust across the region to enhance and develop services for children and families.
"During the Covid-19 outbreak he spearheaded ARC BOX, a digital platform to support children and young people with life story work, providing a securecspace for them to explore their history and share, on their terms, with those important to them - including birth family members.
"The crisis raises issues of identity and separation and loss, for children away from their birth families and who have experienced a number of transitions in their lives. The crisis is preventing children’s social workers from providing direct face to face work with the children they have responsibility for and ARC BOX gives them a platform for engaging safely with the child and in turn gives the child the opportunity, through its diary and posting facilities, to express any fears or anxieties they might have using a secure private medium rather than using the more public social media platforms used by the wider public.”
Mr Fitzpatrick told of his disbelief upon being notified of his award.
He said: “You’re not usually getting emails from the Cabinet Office every day of the week, so you natural inclination is to think, ‘Is this a scam?’
"So I did have to look at it a few times, check the logo carefully and determine it was genuine.
"I was genuinely surprised and puzzled as to who might’ve nominated me. But it’s a real honour to have been included.”
Having worked in the social care sector for almost four decades, Mr Fitzpatrick says his path into the voluntary sector began with work he carried out in local government.
"My interest in work with fostering and adoption in particular came as a result of children’s services work I was involved in with the local authority,” he explained.
Since setting up ARC in 2013, Mr Fitzpatrick says his organisation has found new homes for nearly 200 foster children in the region.
He added: "Back at that time there was a real shortage of families offering to foster. So it was a real challenge getting set up – but it’s one I’m really glad I took on.”