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Care Leavers Celebration Event 2017

Over 75 care leavers and 25 professionals from 27 local authorities came together at the University of Salford to celebrate good practice from across the country on Thursday 26th October. Nat O’Brien, Senior Project Co-ordinator for the National Leaving Care Benchmarking Forum talks us through the day.

22 November 2017

The National Leaving Care Benchmarking Forum is an important platform which brings together local authority leaving care services for professional and practice development, by working with young care leavers across the country in the Young People’s Benchmarking Forum (YPBMF).


This event was set-up to celebrate the work of the YPBMF, and encourage knowledge-sharing and collaboration. Attendees shared a range of ideas and views through exhibitions, workshops, discussions and speeches.

The event began with a market place where care leavers and practitioners could pitch their best-practice ideas and collect ideas from other local authorities.

Attendees also heard from Mark Riddell MBE about his life in care and his commitment to working to improve outcomes for care leavers, as well as award-winning comedian Sophie Willan about her experience of growing-up in care, making mistakes and becoming successful.


YPBMF Champions Billie Jo, Darrien, Duncan, Faye and Kieran delivered a session about the role of the ‘Champion’ and how it had helped them with their own personal and professional development, whilst enabling local authorities to understand the key priorities for care leavers.

A number of workshops were held throughout the day –  speed-benchmarking style – where young people and practitioners had the chance to talk to other services and organisations such as Barnardos, Ofsted, DfE, NNECL and Aim Higher. There were also important breaks for snacks, a chocolate fountain, and a musical collaboration from ‘The String Beans’ alongside Cornwall and Newcastle!


Awards were presented to young people who had excelled in the Forum:

  • Tiffany and David from Newcastle won the best NLCBF logo design award and will be travelling to London to work with a designer to take their design from concept to reality
  • Sophie from Knowsley won the NLCBF Best Positive Message award
  • Team Hartlepool won the Best Networkers award
  • Stoke collected the NLCBF/YPBMF Best Poster and Pitch award
  • Billie Jo from Hartlepool won the 2017 YPBMF Champion award for doing exceptionally well as a member of the forum, attending multiple sessions, presenting at YPBMF events, managers events and thematic events
  • The winnerbof the NLCBF/YPBMF Best Co-produced Project was The Young Health Help web-app’ (Western Trust/Northern Ireland).

Attendees described the App as:

“Inspired. Practical, Useful. Up to date, YP led. YP designed.  Career development for the young people involved.  Really useful and well impressive”

“I like the fact they have made an app online that can help people who are embarrassed to go to the doctors”

We are grateful to all who attended for making the journey and filling the room with such positive energy! A big thanks to all those YPBMF Champions for their support on the day and for making NLCBF & YPBMF such a success all year round.

We can’t wait until next year #NCLW2018

Nat O’Brien
Senior Project Co-ordinator
Catch22 National Leaving Care Benchmarking Forum

Further information