A pioneering teenager has been awarded the Outstanding Achievement Award at The Fostering Network's annual Fostering Excellence Awards.
Becci Coole, 20, is a care leaver with particular promise and potential, who has overcome many challenges that people her age would rarely face.
Despite these challenges, Becci took on the role of a Chief Executive Young Advisor with the Doncaster Children’s Services Trust as well as a modern apprentice position at just 16.
While working with the Trust, Becci was instrumental in changing its approach to decision making and language to become more child-centred – replacing terms like ‘respite’ and ‘contact’ with ‘sleepovers’ and ‘family time’.
Becci also adapted a training programme to generate revenue for a bursary for care leavers so that they can access educational opportunities. The chair of the board of the Trust was so impressed by this idea he named it Becci’s Bursary.
Becci is now living independently and has taken on caring for her younger teenage sister and has also gone on to study an Access to Higher Education Social Work and Criminal Justice course.
Becci’s colleague at Doncaster Children’s Services Trust, Tracey Cusack, nominated Becci for the award. Tracey said: “Her journey into adulthood has been testing, which makes her transformation during the three years I have known her all the more remarkable and an inspiration to witness.”
Becci said: “My confidence has grown massively, my whole outlook on life has changed. I had no ambitions, didn’t really believe in myself, no value for education, didn’t really have anyone but myself. But now I am confident, I know I will achieve what I want too, I enjoy education and I feel as if I have a loving family.”
Paul Moffat, Chief Executive of Doncaster Children’s Services Trust said: “Through her work as a Chief Executive's Young Advisor, Becci has been determined to make a difference to the lives of other children and young people. She has helped to turn our children’s units into homes, developed a successful training programme that has been delivered across the UK and helped other young people to have their voices heard. I can vouch for us all of us here at the Trust when I say Becci is an inspiring young woman and we are all immensely proud of her."
Speaking at the awards Kevin Williams, Chief Executive of The Fostering Network, said: “The Fostering Excellence Awards give us the opportunity to shine the spotlight on some fantastic children and young people and their achievements, as well as those who care for and support them. Becci has led the way in terms of her work in Doncaster Children’s Services Trust and is a worthy winner of her award.”
Becci’s award is one of 21 presented at the ceremony on 24 October at Draper’s Hall in London. Find out more about the Fostering Excellence Awards and see the full list of winners and their stories at www.thefosteringnetwork.org.uk/awards
Find out more about the awards, and the work of The Fostering Network, on their website: www.thefosteringnetwork.org.uk