A SCHEME helping young care leavers to get a foothold in a career has earned Wirral Council a major national award

The programme has seen the authority working with local companies in its supply chain to create apprenticeships and full time work for those leaving local authority care.

In the APSE (Association for Public Service Excellence) annual National Service Awards Wirral scooped top prize in the "Best Innovation and Demand Initiative" category for the trail-blazing scheme.

The authority had also been nominated in the Best Health and Well-being Initiative category.

The award completes a successful year for the programme which was also a finalist in The Social Value Awards, Go Procurement Awards and LGC Awards – demonstrating the recognition of the invaluable contribution it has made to the lives of young people.

The APSE award highlights how this pioneering programme enables young people leaving care to feel valued, supported, and optimistic about their future, and recognise the benefits of full-time employment as they become less reliant on the local authority.

The council has also taken steps to increase and measure the employment of Care Leavers by local authority suppliers and incorporate this into its Social Value Policy when seeking new suppliers as the authority continues to extend the project.

Cabinet member for finance and resources, Cllr Janette Williamson, said: "The council and our suppliers see this as a first step.

"In the longer-term we are determined there will be many more opportunities created through working closely with our providers.

"What is encouraging is this is also a clear example of how a 'whole council' approach to corporate parenting can work to support our Care Leavers with really clear and positive outcomes for both them and the wider Council.

"I'm also pleased to be able to say that Wirral is now incorporating similar models into its new service contracts to maximise the benefits of this in the future.

"And one thing is for certain – sustained and progressive implementation of this scheme will undoubtedly change the lives of young people leaving care forever."

APSE chief executive Paul O'Brien said: "Not only do these awards recognise and promote individual achievement, they also provide an opportunity for best practice to be shared with other local authorities and organisations.

"In this way, councils' hard work and dedication is used to deliver vital services to communities across the UK."