Southwark makes a strong commitment to support children leaving care

17 July 2019

Southwark has taken a major step forward in supporting local young people who have been in care, by being one of the first boroughs in the country to formally launch its Care Leaver Covenant.

At a packed event at Kings College in SE1, local businesses, charities, universities and public sector organisations came together to hear from young people about their experience of leaving care, and what they think the borough can do to support them.

The Care Leaver Covenant is a national scheme which encourages key employers and businesses in local areas to come together to support children leaving care. It aims to create a level playing field so that care experienced young people don’t miss out on the advantages and opportunities provided by an extended family. Organisations can offer a range of support and opportunity for care leavers including employment, education and training support, access to health, or financial and housing advice and support, depending on the nature of their business.

King’s College, who hosted the event, have an excellent offer for students who have been in care, including 52 weeks a year accommodation, and different entry requirements, taking into account the challenges they have overcome and often the lack of family support.

Francis, a Southwark care leaver who spoke of his experiences at the event, said: “There are many ways in which we, as care leavers, are pre-judged because of a lack of understanding. For example, people might not realise that care leavers are  more likely to have mental health issues and need extra support at work. But we have many strengths too, and are often really determined and driven, but people don’t always see past the stereotype. That’s why it was so amazing to see so many people come together to launch the Covenant, and find out what they can do to make a real difference to young people leaving care.”

Michelle Sebele who grew up in care and is studying Medicine at Kings, said: “It has been immensely inspiring to be a part of the launch of Southwark’s Care Leaver Covenant. Hearing about the aims and current partnerships in the works has been reassuring to know that the voices of care-experienced young individuals are being heard.”

Cllr Jasmine Ali, Cabinet Member for Children, Schools and Adult Care, said: “We know that the young people in our care have a lot to offer. For too long children in care have suffered a double blow, often having a difficult start to life and then not having the help they need to succeed in adulthood. In Southwark, we are saying this isn’t good enough, and we all need to pull together as a borough to support our care leavers. We are a borough filled with innovation and opportunity, and so we are asking everyone to think about what they can offer to give a young person that first step on the ladder, or a helping hand to progress in their career.”

Anne-Marie Canning, Director of Social Mobility and Student Success at Kings College, said:   “We have a comprehensive package of support for care-experienced applicants to King’s College London but we know we achieve more for young people when we work together. The Care Leaver Covenant launch is an important milestone in boosting the opportunities and support available to care leavers in our local community of Southwark.”

Gareth Evans, Head of Brand and Partnerships at the DFE-commissioned national organisation Care Leaver Covenant, attended the event and spoke about the national importance of doing more to support care leavers.  For more information about how you can sign up your business or organisation to the Care Leaver Covenant, go to https://mycovenant.org.uk/ 
 

Page last updated: 17 July 2019