The success of young people going on to forge independent lives for themselves has been celebrated during National Care Leavers Week – at the same time as a new project was launched in Wolverhampton to improve the transition process.
Over the last two decades, the City of Wolverhampton Council has helped more than 1,000 young people make the move out of care to independent living, and those who are about to make, or have recently made, the move took part in a wide range of activities this week to celebrate their progress.
At the same time, the council has launched its New Belongings project, which aims to raise the expectations and aspirations of care leavers, and reduce the sense of long-term isolation often experienced by people after they leave care.
It will see the council create a Care Leavers Charter, outlining the help and support they can expect, and establish a forum giving care leavers a greater say over the services they either get or would like to receive.
Contact with young people after they leave care will be improved to ensure they are progressing well, and extra support will be given to develop their independence skills and get a feel for adult life. At the same time, care leavers will be given greater opportunity to access apprenticeship and work experience opportunities in Wolverhampton.
Care leavers will also have the chance to improve their health and wellbeing, with the provision of special drop-in health clinics and discounts at the council's WV Active leisure centres, while they will even get the chance to grow their own by having a plot at a local allotment.
Councillor Val Gibson, the City of Wolverhampton Council's Cabinet Member for Children and Families, said: “Supporting care leavers is a key priority for the council, and we want our young people to have the best possible chance to succeed.
“Young people in care have often had a very difficult start to their lives, so it's important that we give them the help they need to make the transition into adulthood.
“New Belongings is a national project that has seen successful outcomes for care leavers in other authorities; we are confident that we will be able to replicate this success by developing some fantastic new services to make the transition process as smooth as possible.”
New Belongings was formally launched during this week’s National Care Leavers Week, which has also seen young people take part in a wide range of activities, from football matches and fitness sessions to advice workshops. In addition, they had the chance to speak to senior council managers about their experiences of care and the transition process.