St Michael’s Mount will be lit up on Saturday night in honour of all the people in Cornwall who have lived in care.
It is part of National Care Leavers Week (October 25 to November 1), aimed at raising awareness of the challenges those with experience of the children’s social care system face and the incredible things many go on to achieve.
It is organised by Become, a national charity for children in care and young care leavers, and this year they are calling on everyone to CARE:
- Celebrate care leavers
- Amplify their voices
- Raise awareness of challenges
- Encourage change in policy and practice.
There are currently almost 600 children in care in Cornwall and last year the council supported 565 care leavers aged between 16 and 25.
Cllr Barbara Ellenbroek, Cabinet Member for Children and Families, said:
“We know that people with experience of care may face additional challenges and encounter poorer outcomes in certain areas. This is why Cornwall Council is leading the way in helping young people in care, both during the time they are in our care and after they leave.
“In September we voted in favour of treating care experience as a ‘protected characteristic’, which will help ensure people who have lived in care face no discrimination and are always treated fairly.
“We hope this will help create opportunities across Cornwall's diverse communities and support the council’s mission to ensure everyone can start well, live well and age well.”
Children’s social services in Cornwall are rated as ‘outstanding’ and over the last five years performance in key indicators for care leavers has been amongst the best in the country:
- In 2022-23, Cornwall Council was ‘in touch’ with 286 of 289 care leavers.
- The provision of suitable accommodation for care leavers has remained at 97%, despite the significant pressures on housing in Cornwall.
- The number of care leavers in education, employment and training for 2022-23 was 78.3%, markedly better than the England average at 55% and the South West average of 56%.
- There has also been an increase in the number of care leavers in higher education (17 young people in 2022-23).
The council has introduced specific measures as part of its work to further reduce barriers for care leavers.
Earlier this year, free travel on Cornwall’s buses was extended to all 18 to 24-year-old young people leaving care to give them better access to work, training or study and getting to appointments, as well help improve mental health and reduce isolation. It followed a successful pilot in Cornwall with the charities Carefree and Barnardo’s, and the bus operators.
The council provides council tax exemptions up to the age of 25 years old for care leavers who were under its care up to the age of 18.
It has also been working closely with charity Carefree Cornwall to ensure that housing protocols recognise the additional needs of care leavers.
Mari Eggins, chief executive officer at Carefree Cornwall, said:
“Young people in and leaving care continue to be amongst the most disadvantaged in our society. They are at risk of doing significantly less well in areas like education and employment, because of things that have happened to them rather than because of their own abilities. Despite this, many go on to achieve great things in life.
“It is crucial that we support all care leavers to fulfil their potential, making sure they are treated fairly and face no discrimination. I hope everyone in Cornwall will join us in celebrating National Care Leavers Week and think about how they can CARE.”
For more on National Care Leavers Week visit the Become website.
Cornwall has dozens of children waiting to find a forever home and the council holds regular information meetings about adoption.