The work of people who have gone that extra mile to help Doncaster children and young people in care were rewarded for their effortsat an awards ceremony earlier this week.
During the Star Awards, held for Doncaster Children’s Services Trust staff and external workers who help give children a great start in life, a total of 15 winners were announced in a wide range of categories.
These included the prestigious Social Worker of the Year award; Improving People’s Lives award; and Team of the Year – for staff who helped improve the lives of children, young people and families, among the others.
But some of the loudest applause was reserved for foster carer Trevor Polson, who took the Be Excellent title; foster carer Christine Sowerby who won the Partner or Carer of the Year award; and Tracey Sinnott, winner of the Innovation of the Year award for her work as part of the Trust’s pioneering Mockingbird programme to support foster carers and children growing up in care.
Trevor and his wife Sandy have been short-term foster carers for many years and, in 2014, Trevor was the lead member in the group which established the DFCA to help support the community of foster carers throughout the borough.
Last year, he also became a Fostering Ambassador with the Trust to help recruit more foster carers and is always ready to answer anyone’s queries about becoming a carer.
He was nominated for the award by his supervising social worker from the Trust’s fostering department, Trish Jarvis, who said: “Trevor and Sandy will tell you that the children are the most important part of their world and they will do whatever it takes to ensure the child’s needs are met.”
The couple have cared for babies who have moved into adoptive families in their most recent years as carers and, Trish says: “Trevor and Sandy give all their love to the children they care for and, because of this, they are able to transfer their affection and attachments to their new mums and dads.”
Accepting his award, Trevor said he felt very humbled and was “blown away” that he had been nominated and then won.
Christine Sowerby was nominated by supervising social worker Diane Hall, who said of her: “Christine is an exceptional foster carer, who has been outstanding with all the children she has looked after. She always goes above and beyond – as an example she is currently doing some extra work with a child who used to be in her care to help her even further.”
Commenting on the award, Christine said: “I feel so privileged to receive this recognition – I’m beyond words. During all my years of helping children on their first step in life I have met some lovely people and made lots of new friends.
“The amazing guidance, training and support from the Trust has helped me to gain an increased understanding of children and their needs.”
Tracey Sinnott, meanwhile – who was also nominated by Trish Jarvis – has been a ‘hub carer’ for the Trust’s Mockingbird Project for the past 18 months.
Based on the idea of the extended family, the model uses the concept of ‘constellations’ where six to 10 ‘satellite’ families of foster and kinship carers live in close proximity to a ‘hub home’. The hub home has specially trained carers who offer dedicated support with things like respite care, peer support and social activities. They are also trained to identify and manage high risk situations.
Trish said of Tracey, who is a mockingbird hub carer: “She is available for the families 24/7. Whatever the time, she will make herself available to provide emotional and practical support.
“Tracey is very committed to the children she cares for and, despite having 10-12 satellite families, she knows each child as an individual. She is naturally very caring and nurturing and she is always willing to take on a new challenge, or find a way to make a difference.”
Accepting her award, Tracey said: “I was so happy to have been nominated in the 1st place, but to win was truly overwhelming - so much so that I cried.”
Doncaster Children’s Services Trust Chief Executive, Paul Moffatt, said: “The Trust has taken significant steps along its journey to improve children’s lives and it couldn’t have achieved all that it has in the last two years without the staff, partners and foster carers who go above and beyond the call of duty to make such a difference to children and young people.
“My congratulations go to all those nominated by colleagues and my thanks go to every member of the Trust, who all come to work every day determined to make a difference to families in the borough.”
The awards for Team of the Year – working with children, young people and families and Social Worker of the Year were sponsored by Trust supplier Matrix; and Club Doncaster donated family tickets for all the winners.
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