Croydon Council celebrated the amazing achievements of children and young people in care and care-leavers at a glittering awards ceremony this week (Wednesday 24 October).
At the borough’s first STAR Awards, more than 90 inspirational young nominees aged 8-24 won awards across 13 categories, ranging from academic achievement to star sibling, sports star, inspiring others, personal journey and many more.
The special event at the Hilton, Waddon Way was co-hosted by local care leavers Ashleigh Searle and Queenie Chizea with special guest, award-winning writer and broadcaster Lemn Sissay MBE, also a care-leaver.
Every young person who had been nominated for an award was invited, along with foster carers, teachers, social workers and members of the public who nominated them. Every nominee was named a winner, and invited on stage to be presented with a certificate and a trophy.
Speaking at the event, Lemn told the audience: “There are 60,000 young people in care at any one time. There are loads of us, we are everywhere, and we are extraordinary people. There is an amazing nature that lives inside every person who has been fostered, or adopted or lived in children’s home, because we have experienced something that most people cannot relate to. Young people in care are incredible and they need to be told that. You are all incredible. This STAR Award ceremony matters. I am so honoured to be here and so proud to be asked.”
Host Ashleigh said: “As a care-leaver I know just how important the STAR awards are for young people who are looked after. They recognise and celebrate our achievements and just as importantly, they bring us together as young people who have a shared experience and are on, or have been on, a similar journey. It’s been fantastic to host this event.”
Leader of the council, councillor Tony Newman; cabinet member for children, families and learning, councillor Alisa Flemming and Mayor of Croydon councillor Bernadette Khan also spoke at the ceremony.
“All the children and young people we look after are incredible. They have been on some amazing journeys and as a council we want to celebrate them, their journeys and their achievements. I feel both inspired by and proud of the young people at our STAR Awards tonight. You are the best and you deserve the best.”
Councillor Alisa Flemming, cabinet member for children, young people and learning
The audience enjoyed spoken word performances from Lemn, and music from local rappers Kingdom and KS Moretime and singer Ella Brown.
Last year Croydon launched its Choose Your Future campaign, which is aims to hear all young people’s voices, celebrating their achievements and encouraging them to make positive life choices.
In the last 12 months Croydon Council has re-launched its Children in Care Council, giving children and young people in care the opportunity to shape the services they receive, and published its ‘local offer’ setting out how it will support young care-leavers.