Southwark Council marks National Care Leavers Week 2021
27 October 2021
This National Care Leavers Week (25 – 31 October), Southwark Council is celebrating the successes of looked after children leaving care in the borough.
Ikesha Tuit is a care leaver who became Chair of SpeakerBox, a young person-led forum where looked after children and care leavers can meet peers, talk about their experiences and inform the services and support offered by Southwark Council. As Chair, Ikesha has worked exceptionally hard to ensure the experiences and needs of care leavers are recognised by the council throughout the height of the pandemic.
In recognition of her outstanding commitment and hard work, Ikesha was named as Young Person of the Year at Southwark’s Civic Awards 2021. These awards are the most prestigious the council can make, recognising and celebrating the exceptional contributions of a small number of dedicated citizens.
When asked how it felt to have won the award, Ikesha said she struggled to put it into words. She explained: “The best thing about being me is being me. And being recognised for that means the world. Even when I feel like I may not be heard, I have been seen.”
Cllr Jasmine Ali, Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Children, Young People and Education, said: “Ikesha is an inspiration, a true champion of looked after children and care leavers. I was delighted to meet her when she received her highly deserved Young Person of the Year Award. She and the other senior members of SpeakerBox have shown a real sense of community in wanting to use their own experiences to support younger children in care. I cannot thank them enough for all they have done.”
While being chaired by Ikesha, SpeakerBox has also highlighted how care leavers have been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic, from social isolation to other factors related to past trauma. They’ve worked closely with council officers to ensure additional support has been provided to all Southwark care leavers so that they get the very best start in life.
There are over 500 care leavers aged 18 to 24 for whom the council as a whole has responsibility. Care leavers are a uniquely vulnerable group who face particular challenges as they enter adult life. The Southwark 16+ Leaving Care Service assists them on their journey to successful independence with specialist support around housing, employment, training, mental health and development of independence skills.
Southwark Council has recently committed to guaranteeing care leavers a job interview if they meet the criteria for a role. This is part of a wider recruitment offer for looked after children and care leavers.
Cllr Ali said: “As a corporate parent, we couldn’t be prouder of all our young people in care and our care leavers. With the right support, our young people can go to achieve the very best in life for themselves. This is why National Care Leavers week is so important as an opportunity to highlight the needs of care leavers and showcase their many achievements.”
In 2019, Southwark Council became one of the first boroughs in the country to formally launch its Care Leaver Covenant. This national scheme encourages key employers and businesses in local areas to come together to support children leaving care.
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: 27 October 2021