Young care leavers in Wigan recognised at annual awards

Wigan Council’s annual care leaver awards recognised those who have overcome often adverse circumstances to achieve success.
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These ranged from being a peer role model, excelling academically, contributing to their community, or becoming an accomplished sports person.

Coun 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.

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The award winners with cabinet member Coun Jenny BullenThe award winners with cabinet member Coun Jenny Bullen
The award winners with cabinet member Coun Jenny Bullen
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Coun 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.

Academic achiever Andrew Page with practice director Sandie HayesAcademic achiever Andrew Page with practice director Sandie Hayes
Academic achiever Andrew Page with practice director Sandie Hayes

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

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Awards were handed out in a total of 11 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.”

Guests were treated to a special poem written by Sarah Porter, titled To You From Us, 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 said: “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

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