Barnardo’s calls for more help to get vulnerable young people leaving care into education, employment and training

Barnardo’s is calling for local authorities to find better ways to help vulnerable young people who have left care to secure an education, employment or training.

As local authorities are starting work on publishing their new local offer of services for care leavers, Barnardo’s is calling on them to carefully consider what can be done to help them.

Barnardo’s believes local authorities should commission improved quality services as part of their local offer for care leavers. This would include:

  • advice on employment, training and skills
  • a range of suitable accommodation options
  • preparation for independent living
  • well-trained personal advisors available to each young person.

Barnardo’s Chief Executive Javed Khan said:

If young people leaving care are to go on and succeed in life then it is imperative that they get the support they need to get a job or access training.  We know at Barnardo’s that with the right help and a bit of belief those leaving care can achieve positive futures for themselves.  

The new requirement on local authorities to publish their offer of services available to care leavers provides a perfect opportunity to revisit whether they are doing enough to support care leavers into education, employment or training. While we recognise central government needs to provide increased resources, local authorities must rise to this challenge too.

In London, a new Barnardo’s programme Building Hope ensures young people leaving care have the opportunity of a secure home and support with their transition to independence, through training into employment.

The Building Hope Academy, a partnership between Barnardo’s, construction industry group Saint-Gobain, Barking and Dagenham College and Phoenix Community Housing, launched in Lewisham in April 2018. The Academy includes a 12-weeks traineeship programme for care leavers aged 16-25, offering functional skills in maths and English, work placements, CSCS card training and intensive support alongside a City & Guilds Level 2 Award in dry lining – the skill of putting up plasterboard walls, for which there is an urgent need across the construction industry.

Young people who join the course will be supported to engage with industry employers to access apprenticeships or employment afterwards. The first group of young people and are expected to complete the course this month.

Derek, 20, from Forest Hill in London said:

I’ve had a bad start to my life and I’ve moved around lots of different hostels and foster homes.

I asked my social worker what they could do to get me on a course. I just wanted to get a job and sort my life out.

I knew that dry lining skills are something that they’re most lacking in the building industry so when this opportunity came up through Barnardo’s, I jumped on it. I came along to a taster session and then applied, and since the first second of the course I’ve loved it.

I love producing things. When I was a little boy I used to keep smashing things, but now I’ve got older I prefer building rather than destroying. I want to get a job first of all, then a house and a car. Then after a few years I’d like to open my own business, that’s what I’m working towards. You’ve just got to never give up, and keep trying.

Donations to Barnardo’s can make a huge difference to care leavers. £10 could pay travel costs to a job interview while £25 could buy them a smart outfit to wear to a job interview.

Young people who have been in care are far less likely to be in education, training or employment than those who have not been in care. Overall 40% of 19-21 year old care leavers in England were not in Education, Employment or Training (NEET) in 2017, compared to 13% of all 19 to 21 year olds.*

The number of looked after children has increased in recent years at the same time as local authority budgets have been cut. At 31 March 2017 there were 37,720 care leavers aged 17-21 in England*. In 2016-17 Barnardo’s supported 3,200 children who had left care. Barnardo’s research** found that the main barriers to employment were a lack of qualifications and experience, the stigma of having been in care and mental health issues.

However, being NEET is not inevitable for care leavers and more can be done to close this gap and deliver better outcomes for children leaving care. In York and Cornwall for example, 74 per cent of care leavers aged 19-21 were in EET in 2017.


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