Somerset Council is celebrating after winning a prestigious Municipal Journal (MJ) Award for a partnership project delivering children’s homes across the county.
The MJ awards is the biggest annual awards ceremony for local government and announced winners at a live ceremony in London on 23rd June 2023.
The Council and its partners – care providers Homes2Inspire (part of national charity, Shaw Trust) and Somerset NHS Foundation Trust – won the ‘Innovation in Partnerships’ category for their trailblazing Homes and Horizons project.
The project is delivering 10 family-sized homes for children as part of a new model of care for Somerset’s most vulnerable young people. It will also provide 20 specialist foster carers and a brand-new, therapeutic education service on two sites within the county, designed to increase young people’s life chances through better educational results and improved mental health and wellbeing.
Chloe, a young care leaver involved with the project, attended the ceremony and shared the day’s festivities on the council’s social media channels. Chloe said: “Thank you to all the other young people who have contributed to Homes and Horizons over the last year and made it such a success. Without the input of all the care experienced people who have helped shape our work it would not be the innovative partnership that it has become”
Claire Winter, Executive Director for Children, Families and Education, said: “We are absolutely delighted to have won this award and have the work we are doing to support vulnerable young people in Somerset recognised nationally.
“This award is a real testament to the hard work and dedication of everyone involved with this project – they have worked tirelessly, often going the extra mile to ensure that vulnerable children and young people are put first. Their professionalism, commitment, and genuine care for the children and young people that they support is central to the success of this project, and it’s wonderful to see this acknowledged nationally with this prestigious award.”
Chris Luck CB MBE MA MPhil CCMI FRSA, Group Chief Executive of Shaw Trust, said: “To thrive we need our care, health and education needs to be met. In Somerset we are doing this for some of the county’s most vulnerable children through innovation and putting the child first. In a genuine partnership of equals with a shared determination to change the approach and the system, we are creating a better future where the children have a voice as first amongst equals.
A brave and determined Somerset Council Children’s Services team, supported by their elected officials, is creating the conditions for children to thrive and Shaw Trust is proud to be a partner in this bold new approach. We are delighted this has been recognised by the judges in the MJ Awards.”
Mark Conway, Somerset NHS Foundation Trust’s Deputy Head of Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS), said: “We are so proud to have won this award alongside our partners at Somerset Council and Shaw Trust. Traditionally across the country NHS and local authority services have operated separately in the way they support children who are looked after, but in Somerset we are keen to work closely together to provide much more holistic care that will improve the emotional and mental health of some of our most vulnerable young people.
“This service has been developed alongside children and young people themselves, who have told us that they want us to offer something that is local, personalised, and aspirational. By offering this type of specialist care and education with tailored therapeutic support, children and young people in Somerset will have the best possible chance of realising their potential.”
For more information on the Homes and Horizons project, contact firstname.lastname@example.org or follow the project on social media using #HomesAndHorizons.
For further information, please contact the Press Office on 01823 355020 or email email@example.com
Notes to Editors
We cannot disclose the locations of the ten homes for children for safeguarding reasons.
Homes and Horizons is a strategic partnership between Somerset Council, Homes2Inspire and the NHS in Somerset (NHS Somerset, and NHS Somerset Foundation Trust), ensuring every child and young person in Somerset has a safe place to live and learn, where they are listened to, cared for and understood so they can thrive.
Homes2Inspire run more than 30 Ofsted registered family-sized homes across England, looking after more than 100 children. Of those that have been inspected by Ofsted, 93% of their homes have been judged as being either ‘Good’ or ‘Outstanding’. This exceeds the sector national average, which is 80%.
Their homes offer children non-institutional, therapeutic living environments, though they prefer to say they are ‘homely, warm and welcoming’. Each home has a manager, a deputy manager and a support team, who form a close, caring bond to create a family environment.
Homes are well-maintained, attractive living spaces, with many of the children choosing how to decorate their individual rooms. The children share responsibility for their home, keeping it tidy and taking pride in making it a nice place to live. Menus, days-out, nights-in and activities are planned together and many homes join in with community events and fundraising for local, national and international causes.
Homes2Inspire’s experienced teams are trained beyond industry standards to meet the individual needs of each child. Colleagues think creatively to find the best way to care for the children, and to keep on caring when circumstances are difficult.