The Children’s Commissioner for England has praised Walsall for the support that is provided to its young people leaving care.
On a recent visit to Walsall Council, Dame Rachel De Souza, appointed as the Children’s Commissioner in March of this year, met with young people from the borough and with Council officers who work to support them.
The Commissioner was accompanied by Eddie Hughes MP for Walsall North and Minister for Rough Sleeping and Housing and Walsall Councillor Tim Wilson, Portfolio Holder for Children’s Services.
Topics under discussion ranged from setting up home and career aspirations to coping during the lockdown and Covid-19 vaccinations for young people.
Kim, Faye, Rashid, Jamie and Owen shared their experiences as young people who had already or who were about leave care.
All agreed that living independently was an important aim but described how stressful it is to set up home for the first time. The Council’s Transition and Leaving Care team (TLC) was praised for the support provided to young people by Personal Advisors.
Dame Rachel De Souza was impressed by what she heard:
“I am determined to hear directly from children and young people so that I can speak up for them when I am meeting with Government. Kim, Faye, Rashid, Jamie and Owen all had valuable insights to share with me and I am pleased to say that their experiences in Walsall have been positive.”
The Commissioner heard about the accommodation that Walsall provides specifically for young people, the Rent Guarantor Scheme and the newly appointed Young Persons Support Officer, working directly with care leavers and young people to provide tenancy and pre tenancy support.
Councillor Wilson, Portfolio Holder for Children’s Services added:
“I am proud of our young people in Walsall and the support that we provide for them. It is essential that the support for our young people in care doesn’t end when they leave care. The work undertaken by the Council’s TLC team and by our housing officers, help our care leavers to succeed, to set up home, to secure job opportunities and apprenticeships and to progress onto university.
“I am delighted that the Children’s Commissioner for England has taken time to visit Walsall and to talk to some of our care leavers. I am hopeful that their thoughts, opinions and experiences will help to shape future policy.”
Note to Editor
Walsall Council’s care leaving service works with about 280 young people aged 17 to 25 and each young person has an allocated personal advisor. The personal advisors work with young people to secure accommodation, support young people to live independently and with practical things like help with managing money, applying for courses or jobs and interview preparation to secure employment or apprenticeships.
The care leaving service keeps in touch with young people regularly, also supporting young people to access health and mental wellbeing services. The service facilitates participation groups that enable young people to work closely together to listen to and support each other. Walsall’s care leavers are passionate about making positive change to services. They take part in consultations, service re-designs and deliver training for frontline workers and senior leadership.
Walsall Council exempts care leavers from council tax and this exemption extends to the age of 25.