County Durham’s Youth Offending Service has been highly commended at a glittering awards ceremony in London, hosted by comedian David Baddiel.

The service was singled out at the Shine a Light Awards for effectively responding to young people with speech, language and communication needs.

The awards are a national scheme organised by Pearson, in partnership with The Communication Trust, to celebrate innovative work and excellent practice in supporting children and young people’s communication development.

National research has found that more than 60 per cent of young people in the youth justice system have communicatioons problems.

Since March 2014, a speech and language therapist has been seconded to the Durham service and staff have learnt how to identify the signs of communication difficulties and how to  refer young people for further support.

The service has also redeveloped its process for assessing young people when they first come into contact with the service.

These communication-friendly resources have been tested by young people and their families.

This work has resulted in more young people being referred for speech and language therapy in a three month period than there were over the previous ten years.

Eighty-nine percent of staff at the Youth Offending Service now report they are confident at identifying problems and the service has been asked to deliver training and share resources with another youth offending service.

Sarah Caden, Practice Improvement Officer, and Susan Stewart, Clinical Lead Speech and Language Therapist, said: “We are delighted to be Highly Commended for the SLCN Innovation Award for our ClearCut Communication Screen Resources.

"Supporting young people's communication needs makes the youth justice system fairer and more meaningful for young people who offend and victims.”

David Baddiel, Host of the 2015 Shine a Light Awards, said: “Speech and language problems too often go under the radar, so everyone should not only be congratulated for their work but for bringing this important issue to the attention of others. I would like to say well done to all those shortlisted who have shown true grit and determination to better themselves and others. They are all a true inspiration - keep up the good work.”

The Shine A Light awards are designed to honour individuals, teams, campaigns, communication-friendly settings and communities that have excelled in their support of children and young people’s communication, particularly for those with SCLN.