Celebration Fund for Looked After Children and Care Leavers

What is the purpose of the fund?

All councillors at Surrey County Council are committed to being good corporate parents and this means they will encourage and support children and young people in care and leaving care to achieve their potential. To help with this there is a small, discretionary fund that all Members are asked to contribute to, which as corporate parents we set aside to recognise, and reward looked after children and care leavers for their achievements

What can I apply for?

There is no definitive list of what can be applied for; however, examples include:

  • Lessons/Training Courses
    Previous awards granted: music lessons, dance lessons, record studio sessions, beauty/security courses
  • Equipment for a hobby
    Previous awards granted: cameras, gym equipment, musical instruments, art supplies, iPods
  • Visits/trips
    Previous awards granted: school/residential trips, football tickets, theatre trips, zoo experience.

Please be aware that due to limited funding available what is applied for must be outside of the core offer and what we expect the child or young person's carer to normally provide. We are unable to support requests for any form of therapy.

There is a limited amount of money available, and we want to be fair to all applicants. Therefore we have set a maximum request amount of £300. However, this may be higher in exceptional cases where comprehensive supporting information is given.


In order to ensure that as many children and young people can benefit from this fund as possible, each child/young person is entitled to a maximum of one award in a financial year.

The applications and awards made through this fund are expected to make a positive difference to a child or young person's life in his/her personal growth, development and achievement.

How to make an application

Before making an application, please check the Local Offer to ensure that there is not already an alternative way to seek financial support, such as the laptop and learn to drive schemes.

Applications can only be made by professionals working with looked after children and care leavers using the link below. This is including but not limited to; Social Workers, Personal Advisors and staff from the Virtual School.

Please complete the Celebration Fund for Looked After Children and Care Leavers online application form. Applications received by email will not be accepted.

Apply for the Celebration Fund

We really want to hear the voice of children and young people throughout the application process, and encourage you to include pictures, video or audio clips where possible. These can be referenced in the online application form and sent to celebration.fund@surreycc.gov.uk

If you are a child looked after, care leaver or carer, please work with your key worker to help complete your application.

Application tips

The following guidance is intended to make applications quick and easy to complete. It is important to be clear and concise to ensure your application has the best chance of success at panel. You may want to include a quote from the young person. Audio/video can be referenced in the online application and sent to celebration.fund@surreycc.gov.uk

We have provided some examples below to help you answer the detailed application questions:

What award is the child/young person requesting?

  • Provide a link to the requested item if possible.

Please specify the sum of the award requested

  • Specify the amount requested and breakdown of this cost
    Example: £129.99 will cover travel and tickets for 2 people

Why should the child or young person receive this award? (what have they achieved and what are we celebrating)

  • Explain why this award has been chosen
    For example: Is this something they are passionate about or have mentioned?
  • Provide specific examples of achievements
    For example: improved school attendance/grades, personal improvements, progress with a hobby.

What difference will this award make to the child or young person's life

  • Provide specific examples
    Example Answer: A trampoline would provide a positive outlet for this young person to channel their excess energy and will give them an opportunity to engage in positive physical activity on a regular basis.

Please provide details of any other funding streams and/or contributions that have been explored to obtain this award and detail whether they have been successful or unsuccessful.

  • Examples of funding streams and contributions may include: charity applications, setting up home allowance, virtual school bursary, young person saving pocket money, foster carer contributions, service funding.
  • Example: the Virtual School have agreed to fund £x and previously foster carers have contributed £x towards this.
  • Example: the University bursary does not cover this because it is a course specific requirement.

6 Top Tips for Social Workers and Personal Advisers

Tip 1:

Remember that it is senior officers and elected members who form the panel reading your application. It is likely to be rejected/sent back for more work if:-

  • Funding is already available through another source (e.g. another SCC scheme such as 'Learn to drive' the Bike scheme or the Leisure Offer - please also check with the Virtual School for education related requests and check the Local Offer for Care Leavers)
  • You are asking for something that should already be available to the CYP – e.g. mental health support, everyday clothes or shoes.

Tip 2:

Focussing on negatives in order to attract a successful application is NOT a helpful approach. Applications will be rejected/sent back for immediate follow up or raised by Members with the Director/Assistant Directors if:-

  • There is anything included which sparks concern for the CYP and their circumstances OR raises concern that the council is not fulfilling its corporate parenting responsibilities. Recent real examples include: YP has been 'sofa surfing' or has 'experienced high number of placement changes' (without explanation) or has 'already tried numerous services for support, without success.'
  • The panel cannot see what achievement is being celebrated, only what the barriers are.

Tip 3:

If asking for sports equipment, the panel will expect to see evidence of belonging to / joining a local club for that sport.

Tip 4:

If asking for funding to help with travel costs for a special trip, the panel will expect green options to have been considered.

  • For example, short flights where other types of transport offer greener options (e.g. Eurostar) are likely to be questioned and follow up requested.

Tip 5:

The panel rarely approves requests for vouchers. Instead, they will want details of the specific event or item.

Tip 6:

When you have completed your draft application, please get it checked by your TM BEFORE you submit it to give it the best chance of success.

  • Add a note under the "supporting information" heading to say that this application has been approved by the team manager and then please name the team manager concerned.

Panel dates and application deadlines

There will be three panels held across each financial year (April to March) these take place at approximately four monthly intervals, in June, October/November and March.

For each financial year panel dates and deadlines will be updated on this webpage.


For the financial year (2023/2024) applications will be considered as follows:

  • 21 June 2023 panel will consider applications submitted up to 5 May 2023
  • 4 October 2023 panel will consider applications submitted between 6 May 2023 and 1 September 2023
  • 7 February 2024 panel will consider applications submitted between 2 September 2023 and 5 January 2024.

Application stages are as follows

  • Shortlisting Panel – initial screening with nominated service representative.
  • Celebration Fund Panel - Councillors from our Corporate Parenting Board will assess each application on its own merit and it is at the discretion of the panel what decision is made.

The panel's decision is final and cannot be appealed against.

Finding out the result of the application

We will aim to make the result of any application known to you within two weeks of the panel's decision.

If the application is unsuccessful, we will explain the reason for this decision and will provide feedback to help improve potential future applications.

If the application is successful, we will contact you to obtain further details to ensure payments can be processed. We will then work with our finance department to make the award available to you within one month of the panel's decision.

Panel may advise that further information is required for them to make an informed decision. If this is the case, you will be contacted via email and we will require you to respond as soon as possible.

We want to hear from you!

If a successful award has been made an email will be sent to keyworkers to ask for feedback and an update. The panel would be delighted to hear about the ways this fund has helped children and young people so please do let us know by emailing celebration.fund@surreycc.gov.uk

Contact us

If you have any queries regarding this scheme, encounter difficulties making an application, wish to withdraw an application or have any feedback about the process, please email: celebration.fund@surreycc.gov.uk