Read about the Fostering Excellence Awards in 2020, watch highlights from the ceremony and meet our amazing winners!
Since the first awards took place in 2014, the Fostering Excellence Awards have continued to grow year on year!
This year we found ourselves in extraordinary circumstances with the coronavirus pandemic causing significant difficulties to everyday life, not least for fostering.
Our awards ceremony was unfortunately unable to go ahead in London as planned however we were determined to make sure our winners were celebrated. Instead, we held full week of celebrations online where we heard from some recognisable faces within the fostering community and celebrated the transformational power of fostering. The awards ceremony also took place online as part of the celebrations.
Guests tuned in to their devices across the UK to recognise the exceptional contributions made by our winners and to hear about some of their outstanding achievements. We shared messages from special guests including actor, Michael Sheen, radio presenter, Pandora Christie, children's author, Jacqueline Wilson and others! They took to their screens to share their congratulations and appreciation for all the wonderful people in the fostering community.
Watch our highlights film and read about our 2020 winners by clicking on the award categories below.
Outstanding Achievement Award
Emily Allen - Em has grown in confidence and, alongside her part time job, advocates for young people in care and consults on proposals which may affect them, in her role as a young ambassador for her county council. Em is also currently working towards becoming a social worker and is in her first year at university.
Emily Barlow - Emily has achieved a phenomenal amount in recent years such as singing in cathedrals around Europe as part of the Belvedere Academy Chamber Choir and appearing on Britain’s Got Talent with the Royal Air Force Air Cadet National Choir. Emily has also not let dyslexia and autism get in the way of her studies and is now studying her A Levels after achieving excellent GCSE grades. And is currently studying A-levels with a view to becoming an engineer.
Nigel Lockhart - Nigel doesn’t let his learning disability get in the way of his love of drama and uses his passion and dedication to represent other young people. As part of a European project, Nigel has travelled to Croatia and Brussels as an ambassador for young people with disabilities in drama. His love of life and acting drives him to face any problems in his way and give pleasure to everyone who meets him.
Outstanding Achievement in Education Award - sponsored by The Exilarch's Foundation
Kirstie Ann Duncan - After not achieving the grades she required, Kirstie moved away from home to attend college and gain the necessary qualifications and experience to achieve her goal of practicing law. As part of her college course she has won two academic prizes. She also supported primary school pupils in learning about the law and including demonstrating a mock court session. Kirstie has recently embarked on an LLB law degree.
Eleanor Simmons - Ellie has overcome the challenges in her early life thanks to her determination and commitment. Alongside her studies Ellie has supported her local authority with foster carer recruitment since she was 16, sharing her story and inspiring others to begin their own fostering journey. At 18 Ellie became an independent member of the Lincolnshire Fostering Panel. Ellie is now studying at university.
Alicia Stocke - Alicia has maintained a full time apprenticeship for the last two years while also working at evenings and weekends, playing for football club and taking driving lessons which she has funded herself. Alicia has also recently addressed an audience of safeguarding leads from across the county, about her experiences as a looked after child, as a keynote speaker at a virtual schools event.
Outstanding Contribution by a Foster Carer Award - sponsored by The Mortgage Brain
Alan Hudson - Alan is known around his service for his positive spirit and can do attitude. He is always striving to improve the situation of both young people and foster carers. Not only has Alan set up coding clubs for young people with another foster carer to increase their employability skills, he also delivers IT training to foster families and developed a breakfast club to support foster carers. Even in the face of personal adversity, he has continued to support the children in his care in an unwavering manner and ensures they thrive in all aspects of their lives.
Diane and Peter Roberts - Peter Diane and Peter never shy away from challenges and often take in teenagers who are involved in gang activity, at risk of sexual exploitation or going missing frequently. They have an outstanding ability to look beyond what’s written about a child on paper and build a connection with young people quickly. Besides providing outstanding care they are also active members of the fostering community: Peter has led a men in fostering support group and provides support to other foster carers.
Kelly Tawse - Kelly is currently looking after two children and goes above and beyond for them and her daughter. Kelly always puts the children’s wellbeing first, come what may. When it was decided that a child she looked after since birth and planned to adopt would be going to live with grandparents in France, she even started to learn French to ensure a smooth transition. Besides being a single foster carer for up to three children at a time, Kelly also supported her daughter through major surgery and makes sure she can thrive.
Jon and Kathy Broad Award
Michelle and Mick Best - Michelle and Mick are looking after two boys with disabilities on a long term basis. Both boys have significant health and learning needs and are non-verbal. The couple uses Makaton to communicate with the children and have spent a considerable amount of time in hospital to receive specialist training for the younger boy, who has tracheotomy and is peg fed. Due to his condition, the couple had to resuscitate him on occasions and are always at his side when he is in hospital. Despite having faced numerous hurdles as foster carers, Michelle and Mick continue to approach each day with a sense of humour and positive outlook, providing the boys with the highest standards of care.
- Outstanding Contribution by Sons and Daughters Award - sponsored by Williams Giles
Archie Barbour - Archie has shown complete dedication to his siblings and effortlessly fulfils his older brother role. One of the younger boys who lives with Archie has additional needs and there were concerns about him joining a high school setting. However he has exceeded all expectations thanks to the support he has received from Archie - helping him understand homework tasks, ensuring his school bag is packed correctly each morning and assisting him with the journey on public transport to and from school.
Sabrina-Jayne Harper - Sabrina-Jayne has shown amazing compassion to her foster siblings since she was born into a foster family. She has changed from being a younger to an older sister for the children who come to live with her family. Sabrina-Jayne is enormously generous with both her time and energy in supporting children and young people involved in fostering as a volunteer mentor for the charity Mind. Now 18, Sabrina-Jayne is embarking on an Open University degree to become a social worker.
Abbie and Rowan Poulton - Abbie and Rowan demonstrate boundless selflessness every day in their approach to fostering. Their sibling has severe and complex needs and requires a lot of assistance for daily tasks, however Abbie and Rowan help with his physiotherapy and his tube feeds. They have developed a deep understanding of his needs and personality and are able to interpret his communications and speak for him. But most importantly they make him smile and laugh and he feels completely safe with them.
- Outstanding Contribution by a Social Worker Award
Jamie Barrett - Jamie was nominated by a foster carer who she is supervising social worker for. The foster carer said: ‘Jamie never "dropped the ball" in her role. I feel she always has my back and she has supported me through some very difficult times. She is the epitome of a superwoman! I’m so grateful to have her as my social worker, there are times that I don’t know how I would have coped without her. Jamie really looks after her foster carers, not just me. But she really cares about the foster children too. She takes the time to listen and get to know people.
Nick Wells - The foster carer who nominated Nick said: ‘He is a man with great empathy and understanding for both looked after children and foster carers. Nick’s ability to really listen to us, communicate effectively and always follow up any issues we had was unwavering. Social work is hard but Nick makes it look easy. He really is one in a million and deserves to be recognised for his dedication, mentoring skills and positive approach to his work with fostering.'
Nicola Young - Nicola was nominated by a young person who’s social worker she used to be. Nicola has kept in touch with the young person to see how they are doing and to let them know that she still cares about them. In their nomination, this young person attributed their positive experiences of foster care to the decisions made by Nicola and said: ‘She cares about every young person whether past or present.'
Amy Davidson - Amy is a truly remarkable young woman whose unwavering commitment to enabling change in foster care and support of The Fostering Network is inspiring.
Amy’s support began when she got involved with the young champions in 2015 and since then has campaigned for better opportunities for care experienced children. She has been invited to speak at various events across Scotland and has become a well-known and respected ambassador for foster care.
Amy’s work ethic is second to none which shows in her achievements: Not only has she managed to balance her involvement as a young champion with growing up in a fostering family and succeeding at university, she has now become director of her own photography business.
Ric Flo - Ric is an artist based in London who often incorporates his experiences of foster care into his art. He has shared his experiences of foster care in his music and the rap workshops he holds for care experienced children, helping them to fulfil their full potential.
Ric promotes the transformational power of foster care whenever he can and has worked with The Fostering Network on many occasions including being interviewed for Foster Care magazine, getting involved in Foster Care FortnightTM and the Fostering Excellence Awards. Ric is a big advocate of foster care and is always keen to raise awareness of The Fostering Network’s efforts to make foster care the very best it can be.
After a difficult start in fostering, Ric was placed with foster carers who he still considers his family to this day.
Sarah Jones - Sarah began fostering in 2014 together with her partner Serena and has since been working with her local community to promote foster care. She has attended open evenings for people interested in fostering and been part of targeted national campaigns to increase recruitment in LGBTQ+ communities.
Besides putting all her heart into caring for her fostered child and enabling them to thrive, Sarah always finds time to support the work of The Fostering Network. Her role as a foster carer ambassador has seen her campaigning and lobbying for fostering and contributing her advice, expertise and insight. She has been interviewed for Foster Care magazine, contributed to Foster Care Fortnight and blogs for the website.
Sarah is an incredible foster carer who also draws on years of expertise in the third sector.
- Fostering Community Supporter Award
Sally and Ettie Wexsteen - Sisters, Sally and Ettie launched their own boutique children’s clothing company, known as Wexbaby, and have been staunch supporters of The Fostering Network for the past three years. Their own experiences of foster care led them to understand how important, and yet sometimes overlooked, foster care is. To date Sally and Ettie have donated profits from the sale of their products totalling more than £1,500 and have done so much to help spread positivity about fostering and The Fostering Network to new audiences, including persuading others to join the cause and make a donation.
- Fostering Friendly Employer of the Year Award
Oxfordshire County Council - As part of Oxfordshire County Council's commitment to fostering, it has developed a five-year transformation plan to improve its overall offer to foster carers. Becoming a Fostering Friendly Employer was part of this and it achieved that status in January 2020.
Since then the council has pulled out all the stops to realise the benefits of the scheme such as policies and practices which enable their employees who are foster carers to balance their role for the council with looking after children. The council actively promotes the support it offers to its staff and also runs 'drop-in' events to encourage others to foster.Oxfordshire County Council has assisted The Fostering Network in promoting our Fostering Friendly Scheme with great case studies and quotes highlighting their good practice and giving an example to others.