The achievements of over 120 children and young people in Bristol who are in, or have recently left care, have been celebrated at an event held at We The Curious.
The second Exceptional People in Care (EPIC) awards, sponsored by a range of organisations from across the city, saw children and young people presented with awards for their exceptional achievements.
Prizes were given for success in areas including education, sport, music, art, dance & drama, community contribution, personal development, caring for others and leading change. Three inspirational young award recipients were also handed the Mayor’s Award for significant achievements over the past year.
This year’s awards were combined with the Strong, Talented, Awesome Rollercoaster Survivors (STARS) of Bristol Awards for care leavers.
Awards were presented by representatives of the sponsors who were joined by Mayor Marvin Rees, Councillor Helen Godwin , Cabinet Member for Women, Children and Families, and Lord Mayor Councillor Cleo Lake.
The evening was hosted by Jamala Osman, herself a care leaver, who told her story of how she became an apprentice and overcame the odds to become one of the UK’s youngest bank managers at just 21.
Councillor Helen Godwin, Cabinet Member for Children and Families said: “Our children in care and care leavers are remarkable people and I am delighted to have this opportunity to celebrate their achievements. One of the most important things a city needs to deliver is the support and opportunity for children and young people to thrive and fulfil their potential. This is why we have collaborated with organisations across Bristol to launch the city’s first ever Children’s Charter to set out a series of pledges that aim to do just that. Many of the sponsors of this year’s awards are signatories to the charter and I thank them for their continued support of children in care and care leavers.”
There are currently around 700 children in care and about 400 care leavers aged 18-25 in Bristol. The awards were first suggested by children in care when asked about what they would like to see more of from the council. The Children in Care Council, an advisory group made up of children in care, has played a central role in the planning of the awards including choosing the names EPIC and STARS.
Lee Probert, Principal and Chief Executive at City of Bristol College, said: “Celebrating the exceptional achievements of Bristol’s children in care and care leavers is something that the College was proud be involved in and support. As a judge and a sponsor of the awards ceremony I was humbled to read all the nominations and inspired by their stories. At City of Bristol College we are privileged to support over a 100 care leavers, helping to increase their confidence and develop ambition. The truly amazing stories presented at the ceremony were an accolade to the passion and drive of each young person and the carers around them. Well done!”
James Berry, Chief Executive, Bristol Credit Union, said: “Helping people triumph through adversity, through their own efforts and with the support of others, is one of the core values at Bristol Credit Union, and I was so pleased we could do something to recognise a really inspiring group of young people and give something back for them.”
Jo Midgley, Pro Vice-Chancellor for Student Experience at UWE Bristol, said: “We are very proud to sponsor the EPIC and STAR Awards and celebrate the achievements of Bristol’s children in care and care leavers. Hearing the nominees’ stories of using incredible determination, creativity and resilience to overcome challenges was both inspiring and humbling.
“UWE Bristol actively welcomes applications from care leavers, and we’re committed to providing them with extra support to help them succeed through our UWE Cares scheme. I am delighted for all the nominees and it was a pleasure to meet and congratulate them on behalf of UWE Bristol.”
Bristol City Council is always eager to speak to anyone who is interested in becoming a foster carer and would love to hear from local residents for a commitment-free discussion about the process.