The achievements of more than one hundred young care leavers across Bath & North East Somerset Council are being celebrated during national Care Leavers Week.
Bath & North East Somerset Council is currently responsible for 106 care leavers, who are receiving ongoing help and support as they make the transition to independent living.
Care leavers are young adults, who have spent time in foster or residential care outside their immediate or extended family before the age of 18.
The council’s ‘Moving On’ team works closely with these young people to provide one-to-one support and advice on a range of issues from finding somewhere to live and setting up their first home to accessing further education or entering the world of work.
The team also works closely with the council’s partners such as Curo Housing Association.
Many young care leavers have had traumatic childhoods like Jane, 23, who was taken into care in her mid-teens.
She suffered from poor mental health which led her to self-harm and eventually her relationship with her foster carers broke down and she ended up homeless.
Jane sought help and moved into supported lodgings but found the transition to independent living difficult.
She suffered from anxiety and depression, began drinking excessively and couldn’t hold down a job.
However, with support from a personal advisor from the council’s ‘Moving On’ team she’s now got her life back on track. She’s undergoing medical treatment, has given up drinking, moved into her own flat and is now focussing on finding a job.
Jane said: “If something is too stressful or my anxiety flares up my personal adviser helps me with that and as a result I have been able to move on with my life and improve on who I am.
“We’ve been working on my mental health so that I can be fit and well and ready to go into employment. I probably wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for the help and support I have.”
Councillor Kevin Guy, cabinet member for Children’s Services, said: “All young people experience big changes in their late teenage years and early twenties, but for those leaving care this challenging time of change can be even harder to navigate.
“Care Leavers’ Week is the ideal opportunity for us to raise the profile of the work that takes place to support this particularly vulnerable group of young people and to celebrate the fantastic achievements of our care leavers.
“Our ‘Moving On’ team works hard to help our care leavers achieve their potential and make a positive contribution to the local community.
“Many of our care leavers thrive as they become independent, successfully progressing into work, training and further and higher education.”
The council will be marking National Care Leavers Week with social media awareness promotions, publication of a special newsletter celebrating the achievements of care leavers and by hosting a special lunch for care leavers at Bath’s YMCA.
A give away day, supported by local businesses, has also been arranged with members of the council’s ‘Moving On’ team nominating care leavers for special awards.
Those selected may currently be facing a tough time, have overcome difficulties or successfully accomplished a goal.