Research was conducted with care leavers and support workers across a range of Barnardo’s services throughout England to understand their experiences of leaving care. Many young people told of how they struggle with the practical problems of how to pay bills and cook for themselves, whilst others experienced a break down in their accommodation and were facing the risk of eviction, sofa-surfing or even sleeping rough.
One care leaver described the anxiety at leaving care and feeling unprepared to cope alone: “But what I am scared about is that when I get to that point and I can’t do it (cope alone), I’m out there and you’re not. There’s no way of getting back into care once you leave it… As soon as you’ve left, you can’t go back.”
Barnardo’s is calling for Government to extend the support given to care leavers, so that ALL care leavers, not just those staying in or re-entering education and training are offered personal advisors up to the age of 25.on_my_own_report_final.pdf
Ahead of the upcoming Local Government Conference 2014, the charity is also recommending that children’s services and housing departments within local authorities work more effectively together to ensure the accommodation needs of care leavers in their area are met. This could include jointly commissioning an accommodation pathway for young people so that care leavers have a degree of choice and are able to access a range of accommodation that meets their needs at different stages of independence.
Commenting on the plight of these young people, Barnardo’s Chief Executive, Javed Khan said:
“Young people leaving the care system are often the most vulnerable in our society, but shamefully the extra help they need is often not available for them or inconsistent across the country.
“These young adults deserve better and should be offered more suitable accommodation options if they face a housing crisis - not be placed in unsafe B&Bs or homeless hostels.
Local authorities need to ensure they are living up to their position as corporate parent to these young people and working in tandem with children’s services and housing departments to make sure they deliver.
“Furthermore it is a paradox that only those care leavers who are in education or training get support until they are 25, whilst those who are jobless and not wanting to access formal learning have their support removed at 21. We believe all young people who have spent time in care need on-going help past 21, especially in order to stay in housing when other support falls away.”