The City of Wolverhampton Council triumphed in one category and was shortlisted for another at this year's Children & Young People Now Awards.

The council's House Project, which is designed to help care leavers through one of the most difficult periods in their young lives, won the Leaving Care Award category at yesterday's (Thursday 4 March) awards ceremony.

Meanwhile, the Aspire2Uni programme beat off stiff competition to be shortlisted for the Children in Care Award.

Councillor John Reynolds, the City of Wolverhampton Council's Cabinet Member for Children and Young People, said: "It's great to see these 2 very important projects, which are having a tremendous impact on children and young people who are in or are leaving care, being given the recognition they deserve by Children & Young People Now.

"I would like to congratulate everyone involved in The House Project and Aspire2Uni, and of course the children and young people themselves, for their efforts."

The House Project, a partnership between the council, The National House Project and commercial partner Reconomy, aims to make the transition to independence as smooth as possible. It sees care leavers aged 16 and over given an empty Wolverhampton Homes property which they can refurbish and then move into. They can then continue living in it for as long as they want. 

Despite the challenges of Covid-19, several young people have already moved into their own homes, with more due to receive the keys to their properties in the near future.

The House Project was co-designed with young people from the very start and works on cooperative principles through which adults and young people work together to refurbish the properties that become their homes. To find out more, please visit The House Project

Mark Warr, Chief Executive Officer, National House Project, said: "We are delighted that the fantastic work undertaken by the Wolverhampton House Project has been recognised.

"Young people have benefitted from the partnership working with Reconomy that has added to the excellent work already going on in Wolverhampton. Young people are at the heart of practice and have been supported to achieve their aspirations."

Aspire2Uni is an innovative partnership project between the University of Wolverhampton and four ‘virtual schools’ for children and young people in care around the Black Country and Staffordshire designed to raise the aspirations and support the achievements of children in care. 

Research shows that children in care do not typically regard Higher Education as a natural course for them to follow – Aspire2Uni aims to address this with the ultimate goal of increasing the numbers of care leavers going onto university. 

And it has been a success – there are currently Wolverhampton 26 care leavers either continuing with or expecting to start university, roughly 3 times the national rate for care leavers going to university.

The 2 projects were shortlisted from a very high number of entries, with Children & Young People Now saying "the competition was fierce and our judges had a hard time making their decisions”.

Councillor Reynolds added: “Giving our children and young people the best possible start in life is a key priority for the council, and these projects are just 2 of the ways in which we are doing this.”

Yesterday’s ceremony was held virtually and can be viewed below. 

Children & Young People Now is the only dedicated magazine for professionals working with children, young people and families, covering childcare and early years, education, health, social care, youth justice and youth work.