A Croydon Council apprentice has scooped a prestigious regional award for his outstanding work supporting children and young people in care and care leavers.
La’Jay Taylor, 27, was named Apprentice of the Year in the London Borough Apprenticeship Awards 2021 – in the same week as he was highly commended in the Young Person’s contribution category of the Croydon Business Reslience Awards 2021.
La’Jay joined Croydon Council’s E.M.P.I.R.E team, part of the Croydon Virtual School service, in June 2020. E.M.P.I.R.E is Croydon’s children in care council and care leavers forum, and stands for Empowerment, Memories, Positivity, Interesting, Respect, and Educational. It aims to empower children and care leavers, giving them the confidence to influence policy, shape the service they receive and have their voice heard.
The London Borough Apprenticeship Awards is an annual event held to celebrate the exceptional impact apprentices have across local government in London. The awards also highlight London boroughs’ dedication to creating apprenticeship opportunities, providing local jobs and training for local people.
As part of his role in the E.M.P.I.R.E team, La’Jay helps to deliver online support sessions, 1-2-1 mentoring and life skills development activities. La’Jay recently took 10 of Croydon’s E.M.P.I.R.E members on a five-day residential trip to Jamie’s Farm in Hereford where looked after young people were able to benefit from a unique and inspiring experience and develop their confidence and independence by spending time in nature and working on the farm.
La’Jay Taylor said: It’s great to be recognised for all the amazing work myself and colleagues have been a part of. I’m grateful that I’ve been given the opportunity to have such a positive influence on the young people of Croydon. I will continue to support and encourage them because they are our future, and I believe in them. Thank you to everyone who has supported me on my journey.”
Debbie Jones, executive director children families and education, said: “This is an incredible achievement for La’Jay. We are all so proud of his hard work and dedication in supporting our looked after children and care leavers. These awards celebrate the impact that our apprentices have within Croydon Council, and highlight the importance and success of our apprenticeship scheme in giving young people an opportunity to make a difference to their communities. Well done La’Jay, you should be extremely proud of this award – like we all are of you here at Croydon Council.”
For more information about the E.M.P.I.R.E team, visit our website.