|Lydia and Lucy rewarded for helping kids in care
L-R: Donna Hall, chief executive of Wigan Council, Lydia Naylor, Lucy Wood and Amy Calter, senior practitioner, Voice and Engagement at Wigan Council.
Two youngsters from Wigan Borough have been recognised at glittering award ceremonies for their outstanding achievements.
Nineteen-year-old Lydia Naylor from Tyldesley and sixteen-year-old Lucy Wood from Platt Bridge have worked closely with Wigan Council to provide support to children in care and help improve their lives despite facing their own challenges.
And their hard work has seen Lydia win the All Round Inspirational Person Category at the Greater Manchester Care Leavers Awards and Lucy nominated at the Children and Young People Now Magazine Awards.
Lydia won the award due to her determination to make sure children in care were provided with the support and guidance that will help lead them to a more positive future. She has been in care herself, and while she was there she helped to set up and be the chair of Voices for Choices, a youth council who represent children in care.
It saw her take part in a variety of activities, such as training social workers, organisations and councillors in how to work with, listen and respond to young people’s needs, represent care leavers at young people forums and lead a project designed to challenge stereotypes surrounding children in care.
She is now studying psychology at university, and was delighted to win the award. She said: “When I found out I had been nominated I was very surprised so to actually win the award is absolutely brilliant. To be recognised for making a positive difference to the lives of children in care is very special. Being in care is not easy but working closely with the Voice and Engagement team has been very rewarding and I'm so grateful to them.
"I now plan to take my experiences and use them to help benefit people from other disadvantaged backgrounds. I was able to secure a summer job through the council with the children’s rights service and Wigan Children’s Safeguarding Board which was a fantastic opportunity and one I really enjoyed."
Lucy was one of just four young people shortlisted from hundreds of nominations for the Children's Achievement Award. She has been involved with Voices for Choices for the past four years and is now its chair.
This has given her the opportunity to represent young people’s views, work with council staff to make changes to how reviews are done for children in care, work with social workers to improve their image and understanding of children in care and also make changes to personal education plans, so children can reach their full potential.
She said: “Being nominated for such an award is great and while I didn't win I had a brilliant evening. It was interesting being with other young people who are or have been in the same situation has me and listening to how they are trying to make a difference, and I found them really inspirational.
“I am in care myself so I understand the concerns and issues other children in care have, and it is important I provide that voice when they feel they can't communicate themselves. Being chair of Voices for Choices has been a great chance for me to make a difference and get involved in a huge amount of projects, and I will keep working hard to help improve the lives of other children in care."
Councillor Susan Loudon, Wigan Council cabinet member for children, said: “Lydia and Lucy are fantastic role models and they have taken their experiences of being in care to improve the lives of other young people in their position and give them a voice. Their work dispels unfair myths that children in care are “trouble-makers" and they have been and continue to be incredibly beneficial to the service we provide.
“The Voice and Engagement team at Wigan Council also deserve credit for the work they do in helping young people such as Lydia and Lucy. I know they will continue working hard to make sure children in care have promising futures and are supported every step of the way.”