As part of Care Leavers’ Week Walsall Council’s Children’s Services is celebrating some of the achievements of young people in the council’s care and the work that is being undertaken by the Transition and Leaving Care service. National Care Leavers’ Week is a time to showcase and celebrate the successes of care leavers and to inspire them to achieve their full potential. The last few months have been difficult for all, but for those most vulnerable in society, the isolation and lack of opportunities that came with lockdown means that the struggles for some have been even greater. Despite this, here in Walsall there are some real shining stars and as part of Care Leavers’ Week, their success is celebrated.
At the start of lockdown, personal advisors delivered food parcels to young people who were not able to go out and access essential supplies. The team also devised an information leaflet to send out to all care leavers regarding support during the lockdown and in addition to this, they were also able to source documents in other languages in regards to COVID-19 virus to share with our Unaccompanied Asylum Seeking Children (UASC) young people.
As part of the social distancing measures, the team also sent out washable face masks to all the young people leaving the council’s care so they could ensure that they protect themselves as well as others.
As part of Care Leavers’ Week, the Transition and Leaving Care service devised a number of virtual activities in which the young people leaving the council’s care could come together and celebrate their achievements. This included baking competitions, quiz events and other fun activities. Whilst this week has to be somewhat different to previous years, the team is sending out a chocolate ‘hug in a mug’ to all care leavers to show they are cared about.
Councillor Tim Wilson, Portfolio Holder for Children’s and Chair of the Corporate Parenting Board said:
“It is great to hear of the work undertaken by the Transition and Leaving Care team in order to ensure that our young people remain supported at this time. Community support such as ensuring that essential supplies are provided to those most vulnerable and linking in with agencies such as housing to ensure all of our young people continue to have a safe place to live is essential, especially just now. Even the small things such as ensuring our young people have access to PPE is great to see and I am pleased to know that our care leavers are being assisted to keep themselves and others safe.”
“During the lockdown, 25 young people were moved into new accommodation. Personal advisors have been able to offer support during tenancy sign-ups, negotiating with local suppliers to deliver essential items and also sourcing things on the internet when stocks were low to allow for a timely move into accommodation in the best interests of our young people. It has been great to hear of staff working hard to keep things moving and ensuring the best for our young people.”
“I’m proud to say that 18 of our young people are currently studying at university and a number of others are engaged in vocational courses. As a trailblazer local authority, we work closely with the Care Leavers Covenant and are currently looking at local initiatives by linking in with Walsall College and the University of Wolverhampton as part of the higher education institutions (HEI) Engagement Strategy. This is an initiative that aims to provide additional, college based support for care leavers in order to improve their chances of achieving in higher education. Whilst this is still very much in its infancy, we are keen to ensure that all of our care leavers are provided with all the support they need to succeed. In addition, we have provided over 50 laptops and dongles to our care leavers in order to ensure they can continue to access and engage in education and training opportunities.”
“It is great to see some of our young people playing their part within their community as the fight against this virus continues. I am proud to hear that we have a young person working at the Queen Elizabeth hospital providing care on the front line, others working in social care within the community looking after the elderly and several more working in warehouses and parcel firms to ensure that our much needed Amazon parcels reach us in time! The efforts made by our young people and how, despite the risks, they have continued to work hard during the pandemic is truly inspirational.”
“The team is working hard to encourage participation of our children and young people here in Walsall and over the last few months, the number of those involved in the Children in Care Council has increased. Our care leavers play a key role in this and their expertise in how we make the right decisions for their future is essential.”
Note to Editor
Walsall Council’s care leaving service works with about 220 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.
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