Released: 11 November, 2020
This year’s EPIC (Exceptional People in Care) awards took place with a virtual ceremony, due to Covid-19 regulations, on Saturday 7 November 2020.
Over 300 young people in care and care leavers were nominated for this year’s awards, which had a movie theme. Each nominee received an EPIC goody bag containing a trophy, certificate, books from West Sussex Library Service, and food and drink donated by Bidfood to enjoy while they watched the ceremony online.
The event was organised by the Children in Care Council, with the support of West Sussex County Council staff. Paddington and Downton Abbey star Hugh Bonneville opened the awards by praising the nominees for showing they can be ‘the very best versions of themselves’ in what has been a very challenging year for all.
Jacquie Russell, Cabinet Member for Children & Young People, said: “I am so very proud of everybody who made it possible to hold this event celebrating our exceptional people in care. To hold such an event virtually took phenomenal effort and I have huge respect for the team who managed to capture the sense of anticipation before each winner was announced, evoking many emotions in what was a superbly co-ordinated event.
“Most of all I would like to offer my congratulations to our children and young people who never cease to open my eyes and amaze me.”
The awards were:
The Big Heart Award – sponsored by Sussex NHS commissioners – went to a ‘kind and thoughtful’ young man who has supported new residents where he lives.
The Big Voice Award – sponsored by West Sussex Libraries Service - was given to a young person who has represented children in care in Parliament and at West Sussex Cabinet, and is studying politics at university.
The Big Talent Award – sponsored by Bidfood and West Sussex Catering Service – was given to a young man for his commitment and talent in drama, dance and singing.
The Big Thinker Award – sponsored by The West Sussex Virtual School – was awarded to a young woman who has overcome difficulties in education to gain a place at university to study art.
The Chris Linfield Award for Volunteering in the Community – sponsored by West Sussex Independent Advocacy service - went to a young man who made afternoon teas for those left housebound as a result of the national lockdown.
The Best Supporting Adult of the Year was won by a foster carer who was nominated by the young person he cares for, who said he ‘makes the best dad jokes’ and had been ’a truly amazing dad for me and I couldn’t ask for anyone better’.
The Big Strength Award – sponsored by SEND Commissioning Service – was awarded to someone who has become a ‘totally independent, knowledgeable young mum who has totally transformed her life through her own hard work’.
The Care Leaver of the Year Award went to a ‘super star’ young woman who produces a newsletter for care leavers and has a ‘real passion’ for education.
The final prize was the Young Person in Care of the Year 2020. The winner was described as a ‘kind-hearted’ young person who has taken on a range of leadership roles and is an anti-bullying mentor. She also picks litter in her community and created an allotment during lockdown.