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Marking National Care Leavers week in Cornwall

 Cornwall Council and Carefree are teaming up For National Care Leavers Week 2020 (26th October to 2nd November), to highlight the achievements of people who have experience of being in care. 

There are over 1.3 million people in the UK who are care experienced and this week is an opportunity to showcase and celebrate the success of care leavers and to think about how we can all do more to help them achieve their full potential.

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Many children and young people come into care after experiencing loss, trauma and disruption and coming into care can be the start of things getting better.

“Most of us had a bad start in life by ending up in care itself, but it is about going forward, thinking about your future and making positive steps to achieve the goals you want”, said Jason a care experienced social worker with the 16+ team.

“One of the biggest achievements for me, was actually becoming a social worker and to be the first ever social worker to join the 16+ team as someone with care experiences. One of my main messages I would give to people in care is, yes, it is hard, but there is always a light at the end of the tunnel.  Cheerfulness under adversity and keeping strong are key and keep listening to the advice your given and using the support network around you.”

The charity Carefree works in partnership with Cornwall Council to support young people aged 11-25, who are in and leaving care.  Carefree’s mission is to give young people in and leaving care the chance to do things for themselves and others and over a third of the team are care experienced.

The partnership between Cornwall Council and Carefree was recognised last year at the Local Government Chronicle awards, winning best service delivery. Cornwall’s Children and Family Services also became the only Local Authority in The Southwest to be awarded Outstanding in the Ofsted report, in which Carefree and young people’s work to improve services was highlighted.

Jason says there is a lot of support available and sometimes you don’t have to look too far: “Being in care I think my biggest support came from my foster carers, they were with me through thick and thin and they were the main people I trusted, and I saw them as my family. I listened to them and they gave me good advice, so yes, they were the best support I’ve ever had.”  

Assistant director with Barnardo’s and Care experienced Nick: “My biggest support has come from two people, the first was my nan who provided me with such support and guidance.  She sadly died five years ago, but she was a rock in my life and there when I need her, which I feel has made me a better person.  The second person was a youth worker from when I was younger; they really inspired me to do what I do now and even now I base my decisions on what I learnt from them.

“My proudest achievement is obtaining my degree, which took an awful lot of hard work, I had to overcome several challenges.  I’m also quite proud of what I’ve achieved at work, not just in my job but by working with other charities and organisations; I like to think I can make a difference to other people’s lives.”

Cabinet Member for Children, Public Health and Wellbeing, Sally Hawken, said: “People can wrongly make a judgement on a young person if they have been in care and this week is all about changing that perception.”

For more information about Carefree, please go to their website