Michelle Lee, Regional Director of HCRG Care Group in Lancashire, said: "I am extremely proud of the way our teams responded to the pandemic so that we were able to continue to support families across Lancashire during this difficult time. The additional work that our Looked After Children team carried out made a really positive difference to some of the most vulnerable children and I'm delighted that this has been recognised through this award."
Lancashire County Council's cabinet member for children and families, Councillor Cosima Towneley said: "This is tremendous news. The Covid-19 pandemic and lockdowns meant that children and young people faced unprecedented challenges. The Looked After Children Team puts in so much work to support them and I'm pleased their efforts have been recognised.
"They used their initiative and creativity to work in new ways, focusing on tackling issues such as loneliness, isolation and ensuring young people had the right support to bring out the best in them for future outcomes.
"Congratulations to the team and all the staff who showed great strength and determination when faced with adversity.
"Collaborative working is the way forward and we will continue our close work with HCRG Care Group to deliver projects to support children and families."
The team created a package of support for Looked After Children aged between 16-18 who were living in semi-independent accommodation during lockdown periods.
Some of the young people originated from as far away as London which increased their potential to be lonely and experience increasing anxiety.
The team contacted the young people to assess and support their welfare, checking that they were aware of lockdown restrictions and whether they had the ability to self-isolate should they need to.
They also organised the collection and distribution of food parcels from local charities, the Samaritans and the team themselves, and completed doorstep drops of Easter eggs, which had been donated by HCRG Care Group staff, using the opportunity to give a welfare check to the older children.
In addition, they successfully bid for £2,000 from HCRG Care Group’s innovation fund to purchase gift cards to provide a further welfare boost.
Many aspects of the work delivered during lockdown have now become business as usual for the team, such as the support visits, food parcels via The Salvation Army and HCRG Care Group staff continue to provide gifts on special occasions including selection boxes at Christmas, Easter eggs and toiletry sets when appropriate.
Catherine Randall, Associate Director of Safeguarding at NHS England/NHS Improvement, who presented the team with their badges, added: "It was a pleasure and honour to present a national safeguarding recognition star to the children looked after team in Lancashire.
"The team went above and beyond to respond to the pandemic so that they were able to continue to support families during this very difficult time. This work has also been shared across England as good practice. Fabulous work, making a difference and safeguarding lives."