Bristol’s Children in care have been recognised for their outstanding achievements in the city’s first Exceptional People in Care (EPIC) awards.
Over 60 children, foster carers, social workers, family members and sponsors from across the city gathered for two award ceremonies held at City Hall to receive awards across sixteen categories.
The nominees, split over two age categories (five to 11 year olds and 12 to 18 year olds), were recognised for their achievements in areas including education, sport, music, art, community contribution, personal development, teamwork & participation and an outstanding achievement award.
Two inspirational young award recipients were also handed the Mayor’s Awards for significant achievements over the past year.
Speaking at the awards, Councillor Helen Godwin, Cabinet Member for Children and Families said: “These awards recognise the incredible achievements of these special young people and the invaluable contribution all children in care make to our communities. It’s humbling to hear their stories and to be told of the challenges they’ve faced so early in their lives. We must recognise the effort and determination they have showed to achieve as much as they have. I am thrilled for all those nominated and am pleased I had the chance to congratulate them all personally.
“I also want to thank our wonderful group of carers who play an important role in nurturing and safeguarding people in care. We’re so lucky to have such a dedicated and loyal group to call on and we’re always looking for more to join our loving and caring family of carers.
“My thanks also go out to our sponsors who have each contributed their time, money and resources to make this awards night happen and have asked for nothing in return. Their generosity just shows the kind of city we live in, one where the most vulnerable in society are recognised for their importance and the contribution they make to Bristol.”
Thomas, winner of an Outstanding Achievement Award, said: “It can be tough being in care; living with someone you don’t know, dealing with some of the stereotypes there are about people in care. Other people I know who are in care feel that it’s hard to break those stereotypes and that even when someone in care achieves something it’s not recognised that they may have had to fight a little harder to reach their goals.
“These awards show that this isn’t always true and that children and young people have a lot to contribute if we’re given the chance. I’ve worked hard this year with the support of my carers and for that to be recognised makes me happy and feel like I can achieve more.
There are almost 700 children in care in Bristol, mostly living with foster carers in long term placements. Many fostered children build strong lasting relationships with their carers that offer support throughout their adult lives once they leave care.
Andy, a foster carer for Bristol City Council, said: “Fostering is one of the most rewarding things I have ever done. I’ve been so fortunate to meet and care for the most interesting people I’ve met in my life. To play a part in supporting a young person to achieve their potential is special.
"These awards will give these children and young people confidence that their achievements are recognised. I also hope that all children in care will see the awards as something to aim for and drive them forward in their education and development."
Bristol City Council is always eager to speak to anyone who is interested in becoming a foster carer and encourage people to get in touch for a commitment free discussion about the process. Anyone who is interested in knowing more should visit the council website to find out a bit about being a foster carer who to contact for advice www.bristol.gov.uk . You can also follow the team on Facebook at www.facebook.com/BristolFostering or on Twitter @BCCFostering.