Hillingdon celebrates its children in care at a sparkling awards day
Friday 22 September 2023: The remarkable achievements of care experienced children and young people were recognised at Hillingdon Council's fun-filled and glamorous event on Sunday 17 September.
Those nominating children and young people for the awards recognised excellence in education, moving into independent living and being involved with the Children in Care Council. Qualities such as resilience, kindness, strength and determination were celebrated as well.
The day's celebrations included games, facepainting, biscuit making, a caricature portrait artist, food trucks, an ice cream van, arts and crafts and more. The specially nominated young people walked the red-carpet to the Mayor of Hillingdon, Cllr Shehryar Ahmad-Wallana, who presented their awards.
Care experienced young person Beanie delivered a passionate speech about what KICA means to her, at the event. She is 20 years old and is now living independently. Since attending KICA a year ago Beanie has been inspired to volunteer with the council's KICA team, supporting younger care experienced children and helping to train council staff in how best to engage with children in care. She has also sat on interview panels for a new council social worker and for the council's new Director of SEND and Education.
Beanie was nominated by six different professionals and presented with a KICA award for her voluntary work. Addressing a packed room, she said: "For us young people, being in care we may face many challenges and get labelled and be judged. For years I let this affect me. I used to be embarrassed and ashamed, but now I am so proud of being in care. I am so proud of the person I have become; of the brothers and sisters I have made and how I have helped other children in care along their journey.
"My life has been like a roller coaster with lots of highs and lows. But I had a team around me who didn't think negatively and who saw my strengths and encouraged me to achieve what I am capable of."
Hillingdon's KICA awards are informed by suggestions from previous year's attendees. This year's event introduced a sensory quiet space for those who need to take a time out from all that is going on.
Cllr Susan O'Brien, Hillingdon Council's Cabinet Member for Children, Families and Education, said: "We are proud of each and every child in our care, and our Kids in Care Awards are a great way to express not just our pride, but that of their carers and contemporaries.
"We are committed to creating safe and strong communities and these awards are an opportunity to shine a spotlight on the fantastic achievements of children and young people in the borough and their dedication and commitment to overcoming challenges."