A 21-YEAR-OLD woman who was in care who has gone to University been recognised for her determination to succeed.

Shaunna Divine, 21, from Atherton, won this year’s Care Leaver of the Year award from the council, for her hard work to succeed academically despite significant challenges.

The achievements of young care leavers were recognised at then borough’s annual Care Leaver Awards.

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Eight young people won awards and many more were nominated for achievements including contributions to their local communities, commitment to education, parenting skills, showing resilience and overcoming adversity.

Shaunna was also recognised at the Greater Manchester Care Leaver Awards, along with three other young people from the borough, including Ricia Dericott, 22, from Hindley Green.

Shaunna, who is now studying at the University of Liverpool, said: “I felt happy to be recognised for my achievements, but most importantly I think the awards ceremony is important to celebrate the achievements and successes of others, as we don’t often get to find out what each other are up to. It was a great way to bring care leavers together to support one another.”

Leigh Journal:

All the winners at a celebration for Care Leavers at the DW Stadium, Wigan

Cllr Jenny Bullen, portfolio holder for children and young people, added: “This event is always so positive. Many of the young people nominated for these awards have overcome challenges in their lives and I am very proud of them for being so resilient and, despite the challenges, going on to achieve in life and to help others too.”

Wigan Council officially launched a new package of support for care leavers at the event.

This includes free prescriptions, exemption from paying council tax up to age 25, 10 free driving lessons, annual gym pass for the young person and a friend and a free TV licence and Internet access for the first year of them moving into their own home.

Each young person is also linked to a Personal Advisor to guide them through finding housing, education opportunities or work and to give social and emotional support where needed.

Cllr Bullen added: “We recognise the importance of working with young people to make sure we offer both the practical and emotional support they need. We hope this offer will help each young person to reach their full potential.”

Jason Cunningham, 20, from Abram and Chloe Halliwell, 20, from Wigan were the other two recognised at the Greater Manchester Care Leaver Awards.

All young care leavers are encouraged to join the care leavers’ council and help influence decisions the council makes about services for young people living in care. They are also invited to visit the care leavers café, CL Creations, where they can learn how to cook the food they eat.

To find out more about getting involved in the care leavers’ council and the café, please contact Sharon at Wigan Council: s.axon@wigan.gov.uk

Wigan borough’s awards were sponsored by local organisations, Pathways and Inspire.

The following young people were recognised at Wigan’s Care Leaver Awards 2019:

  • Community contribution: Jason Cunningham, 20
  • Trish Hurlock progression award: Kieran Moran, 20
  • Overcoming adversity: Candice Curtin, 19
  • Special achievement: Nicole Hussain, 19
  • Transitioning to parenthood: Lucy Campbell, 19
  • Academic achiever: Warren Rindor, 21
  • Peer role model: Ricia Dericott, 22
  • Care Leaver of the Year: Shaunna Divine, 21