A huge breakthrough for care leavers across the UK today in celebration of National Care Leavers’ Week. The event organised by The Care Leavers’ Foundation aims to reach politicians to increase support with housing, training and employment for care leavers beyond the current age of 21.
In a National Audit Office Review, one third of the 10,000 young people in England that leave care each year do so before they turn 18. 40% of 19 year old care leavers are not in education, training or employment and a survey by the Office of the Children’s Commissioner highlighted that one in three recipients felt they had left care before they were ready to live independently.
Today the Department of Education will be launching the Care Leaver Covenant which will support carer leavers with work opportunities. In this new scheme over 50 businesses including giants Amazon, Rolls-Royce and Barclays LifeSkills, have pledged to support care leavers with career aspirations and life skills, offering work-based opportunities. The Children’s and Families Minister Nadhim Zahawi hopes the scheme will create 10,000 work opportunities for care leavers over the next 10 years. He says:
“Becoming an adult is a daunting and challenging time for all of us, but I know from speaking to many young people leaving care, this transition can feel like facing a cliff edge”.
BBC News has highlighted the importance of the scheme for care leavers such as Chloe, who has been in foster care since the age of 13 and now holds down a job in the hospitality industry at the age of 18.
Chloe, who had more than 30 placements in 3 years said: “I thought I would end up as a drug addict and I just accepted it. It was all I thought my life would amount to”.
At the age of 17, her time in foster care was quickly coming to an end. Chloe assumed she would end up in a hostel, but her social worker suggested trying supported lodgings. This scheme allows people with a spare room to offer vulnerable young people a place to stay and to help them with independent living.
Soon after, Chloe moved in with Sarah and one year on Sarah says: “It’s been excellent”. Chloe says that starting work has been key to her transformation after previously never being able to hold down a job because of constantly moving home.
Unlike care leavers who go straight into independent living, there is no danger of running out of money, not being able to pay the bills or not affording to eat. She says she would advise any other young person offered the chance of supported lodgings to “go for it”.
New government schemes such as the Care Leaver Covenant will hopefully help more care leavers like Chloe, find careers and be supported into life as an adult.
Ashley John-Baptiste who spent most of his childhood in care, now a journalist for BBC News, is passionate about getting more support for care leavers and inspiring care leavers to follow their aspirations. He shared his message celebrating National Care Leavers Week and the new Care Leaver Covenant.
Here’s BBC presenter and care leaver @AshleyJBaptiste sharing his message to care leavers in celebration of #NCLW18! Share your message by posting a video with the hashtag #InspiringCareLeavers pic.twitter.com/BxwpkZBexQ
— Become (@Become1992) 25 October 2018
This is an amazing development for all young people leaving care, helping them to achieve the same opportunities and aspirations as their peers and setting them up for a bright future.
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