SOMERSET care leavers and young persons in care have been celebrated for their efforts towards children’s homes development.

Youngsters from Somerset in Care Councils (SiCC) and Somerset Leaving Care Councils (SLCC) were recently awarded by A National Voice, a top advocacy group for those in care.

The young citizens clinched the ‘Collaboration’ award for their role in the Homes and Horizons project.

This initiative, a coop between Somerset Council, the Shaw Trust, and Somerset NHS Foundation Trust, aimed to create ten homes for children, two therapeutic schools, and a fostering service.

Councillor Tessa Munt, Executive Lead Member for Children, Families & Education at Somerset Council said: "What an amazing achievement for our young people.

"It’s a credit to them that they have shaped the Homes and Horizons project with their knowledge and experience to ensure the homes work well for all young people who will live there now and in the future."

Active participants from the get-go, these young individuals were integral in the Council's decision to collaborate with the Shaw Trust.

They undertook tours of children’s homes throughout the UK, interviewed personnel and residents about successful methods, represented youth in decision-making clusters, engaged with neighbours about the project, and even decided on furnishings and décor.

Their contributions led to the naming of the project itself – Homes and Horizons.

The consequence is children's accommodations conceived by individuals with first-hand understanding of the care system.

This distinction resulted in the Homes and Horizons venture securing an MJ award for partnership and innovation.

Chris Luck, Chief Executive of Shaw Trust said: "At the heart of everything we do at Shaw Trust is the voice of the people we support.

"Too often services and systems are designed to deliver what those creating the services believe is required.

"But what most people need is to be heard and understood.

"Only by listening to them and understanding their thoughts, needs, wants, aspirations can we design and deliver services that properly support and empower people to progress."

Members of SiCC and SLCC who attended the event said: "Wow, what a day.

"Meeting inspirational and hard-working members of fellow care councils from up and down the country.

"Honestly, we had the most amazing day, it was really eye opening to not only be able to share our voices, opinions and experiences but also to hear those of others."