'Exceptional' care leavers have been honoured at a ceremony at the University of York.

Care leavers refers to people who grew up or spent time in the care of a local authority, in this case, North Yorkshire Council, which hosted the event. 

More than 70 young people along with officers from the council's children and young people’s services, as well as members of the county’s business community.

The event came before National Care Leavers Week, which started on October 25 and runs until Wednesday, November 1.

The week is a nationwide initiative to celebrate care leavers, amplify their voices and raise awareness of the challenges they face.

York Press: The Care Leavers event, held at the University of York

North Yorkshire Council’s executive member for children and families, Cllr Janet Sanderson, said: “Looking after children is one of the most important things our council does, and we must always strive to give our children and young people the care, support and opportunities they deserve, as well as having ambitions for them.

“The leavers event is our way of saying ‘well done’ to young people who have left, or who are due to leave care.

“We are proud of you and, most importantly, you should be proud of yourself for making this transition from being in care to starting your journey towards adulthood."


During the event, hand-made quilts by volunteers from Quilts for Care Leavers were presented to the young people.

Quilts for Care Leavers was first started by Maggie Lloyd-Jones in Leeds in 2018.

Mrs Lloyd-Jones said: “Our quilters are based all over the country and each quilt carries a label with a positive message such as ‘remember you are amazing’ or ‘remember you are strong’.

“We want the care leavers to know that there is someone out there who has made this quilt especially for them."

York Press: Care Leaver Shaun Walmsley, 23

Among the speakers who attended the event on Saturday (October 21) was former North Yorkshire Council care leaver Shaun Walmsley, 23, who shared his positive experiences of living on his own and his ambitions for the future.

He said: “Upon leaving the North Yorkshire care system aged 18, I attended Leeds Beckett University to study criminology, graduating with a 2:2.

“I knew my heart was always set on pursuing a career connected to my degree and I am now working transporting prisoners between prisons, courts and police stations – a great job with plenty of opportunity for growth and success.”

Awards were presented during the event, recognising the achievements of young people and staff who have championed their causes.