New funding: A helping hand for care leavers

By Cllr Richard Kemp | 12 March 2024

Leaving home is an exciting time for most young people. It’s the moment when we take our first steps as an adult, a time of great plans and potential. But it is also a tricky moment in which support of the right kind is needed.

Care leavers are no exception to this rule of life. But when they come of age they face much tougher challenges than most of us, because they have not been raised with a supportive family structure. That makes them more vulnerable and means they not only lack the fundamental emotional support, but also the practical and financial resources for their transition to adulthood. With so many demands and pressures on local authorities, I am very pleased that a new resource has been set up to focus on 18-25-year-olds for the milestone moment at which they leave care.

As the first scheme of its kind, the Care Leavers’ Programme has been set up nationwide with a total of £3m in funds available over three years to improve the life chances of care leavers. Local authority knowledge and expertise is critical to this new programme’s success. Accredited community foundations, via UK Community Foundations, can apply for amounts of up to £50,000, match-funded £1-for-£1 by LAMIT, a shareholder of investment manager CCLA, as a grant to pay for the basics that any young person needs.

The community foundation must work with their local authority as a delivery partner to capitalise on their skills and knowledge, and to facilitate a more lasting, coherent impact. Importantly, this new funding is for items and activities which are beyond the scope of the statutory support already provided.

Announced at the National Children and Adults Services Conference in Bournemouth last November, with the support of Councillor Shaun Davies, Chair of the Local Government Association, we hope the funding will provide the extras that all teenagers need on the bridge to full adulthood, perhaps the kind of essentials a grandpa and grandma might ordinarily gift.

While further details of the scheme and its implementation will be announced at the conference, Providing Good Experiences for Care Leavers, in April this year, examples of things for which funding can be applied might include basic costs like a bed and new bedding; a kettle and a laptop; driving lessons; further education and training; travel; tickets to a show; wellness and gym membership.

A collaboration between UK Community Foundations, investment manager CCLA and local authorities, the initiative’s success will be enhanced with the involvement of communities. And local authorities are key to providing this connection.

Individuals at grass roots level have the knowhow to suggest ways in which the scheme can flourish and to identify which other resources can be brought in. We have the calling card power to make introductions to other partners to ensure the scheme really helps those who need it, in a joined-up way.

Because local authorities will already be providing vulnerable young people with housing and health programmes, we are in a unique position to have the insight into what is required to provide continuity when they leave full statutory care. The programme has been envisaged as a way of bridging the gap to independence and making sure no one gets lost on the way.

Local partners in the scheme might be employers who have never considered taking on a care leaver before. They can offer training, access and mentoring in a guided way, an ideal opportunity to give back to their local community.  Another example might be a cultural association that can offer young people access to new kinds of pastimes and leisure options, sharing a joyful experience and helping them to feel settled socially.

The Care Leavers’ Programme will provide a backbone of support during the young adult’s first steps, helping to level a very unfair playing field. If we can help to support them through this transition to adulthood, we can help guide the choices they take in life and empower them to build a positive future for themselves. In turn, the benefits of seeing these young people thrive will trickle back into our neighbourhoods, sending positive ripples throughout our communities which benefit us all as citizens.

For more information about the Care Leavers´ Programme contact:

Cllr Richard Kemp CBE is Deputy Lord Mayor of Liverpool and chair of Local Authorities’ Mutual Investment Trust (‘LAMIT’, a shareholder of CCLA)

comments powered by Disqus
Childrens services Local Enterprise Partnerships NCAS LGA Communities