Young care leavers are recognised at annual awards event

From being a peer role model, excelling academically, contributing to their community, or becoming an accomplished sports person; the many different achievements of young care leavers from Wigan Borough were celebrated this week.

Wigan Council’s annual care leaver awards ceremony recognises those who have overcome often adverse circumstances to achieve stability and success.

Councillor Jenny Bullen, Cabinet Member for Children and Families, presented the awards along with Director of Children’s Services, Colette Dutton, and Practice Director Sandie Hayes.

Councillor Bullen said;

“This awards ceremony is one of my favourite events of the year. It’s an opportunity to hear so many positive stories about young people who, with some support, but also through their own resilience, have achieved so much.

“This year’s event has been absolutely amazing. Lots of young people were nominated and many of those nominations were exceptionally impressive and moving. Even the young people who did not win an award this year should be very, very proud of their achievements.”

Declan Aziz, 19, from Garswood, was awarded the coveted Young Care Leaver of the Year Award for commitment to his apprenticeship and to his own self development.

Declan said;

“It feels amazing to win. I didn’t expect it at all.

“I’ve worked really hard this year and I’ve gone from square one to where I am today, so winning this award makes me feel like I’ve accomplished something.

“Events like this are important to young people as they can show you that you are on the right path in life.”

Awards were given out in 11 different categories, including Peer Role Model, Academic Achiever, Community Contribution, Parent of the Year, and the Trish Hurlock Special Award, which recognises young people who have overcome adversity and is awarded in memory of a former member of the council’s leaving care team, who died in 2016.

Andrew Page, from Leigh, was the winner of this year’s Academic Achiever Award.

The 22-year-old said;

“I never win anything so I was very surprised.

“It means a lot because, as a young care leaver, some of us might not have a mum or a dad behind us, but we have our corporate parents at the council, so events like this can help us feel like we are supported in life.

“I’m dedicating my award to my personal advisor in the council, Lesley Malone, as I know I sometimes give her a hard time, but I am really grateful for her support.”

Alongside the awards, guests were treated to a special poem, To You From Us, written by Sarah Porter from the council’s leaving care team and performed by care leaver Tia Hewitt.

Some impressive prizes, donated by generous local people and businesses were also given out in the raffle.

Coun. Bullen added;

“I want to say to any young care leavers who might be reading this to continue reaching for your own ambitions.

“We will be here to support you along the way.”

Young care leavers from Wigan Borough can find out more about the support available by joining the Wigan Care Leavers closed group on Facebook or on Instagram @clwhub

2023’s Award Winners are:

  • Sports Personality of the Year:  Sean Fleming
  • Peer Role Model: Dom Scotson
  • Community Contribution: Duncan Marsh
  • Progression Award: Owen and Jack Kirby
  • Parent of the Year: Kallem Rodgers
  • Academic Achiever: Andrew Page
  • Overcoming Adversity: Mohammad Milan 
  • Trish Hurlock Award: Danielle Bamford
  • Care Leaver of the Year: Declan Aziz
  • Certificate of Special Recognition for working hard to get to University: Lewis Hocknull
  • Certificate of Special Recognition for the most effort: Sean Mercer

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