A LANCASHIRE service which helps children in care has been given a national award.

The specialist team have been awarded NHS England 'Safeguarding Star' badges for going the extra mile to support youngsters during the Covid-19 pandemic

The accolade went to members of the Lancashire Healthy Young People and Families Service's dedicated Looked After Children Team.

It is part of the children's services delivered by HCRG Care Group on behalf of Lancashire County Council.

The team operates in the authority's 12 boroughs including Ribble Valley, Hyndburn, Burnley, Pendle, Rossendale and Chorley.

The award comes shortly after Ofsted inspectors downgraded the separate Blackburn with Darwen Council children's services department to‘requires improvement’ in March.

Cllr Cosima Towneley, the county council's children and families boss who represents Burnley Rural division, said: "This is tremendous news.

"The Covid-19 pandemic and lockdowns meant children and young people faced unprecedented challenges. The Looked After Children Team put 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."

The award-winning team team created a package of support for Looked After Children aged between 16 to 18 who were living in semi-independent accommodation during lockdown periods.

They contacted the them 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.

The team organised the collection and distribution of food parcels and completed doorstep drops of Easter eggs using the opportunity to welfare check to the older children.

It also received £2,000 from HCRG Care Group’s innovation fund to purchase gift cards.

Michelle Lee, director of HCRG Care Group in Lancashire, said: "I am extremely proud of the way our teams responded to the pandemic. 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 this has been recognised."

Catherine Randall, associate director of safeguarding at NHS England presented the team with their badges and said: "It was a pleasure and honour to present a national safeguarding recognition star to the looked after children team in Lancashire.

"They went above and beyond to respond to the pandemic. This work has been shared across England as good practice."