A new charity has launched to act as a ‘bank of mum and dad’ for care leavers in Brighton and Hove.
Beyond, the Care Leavers Trust, launched last month with an event at the Mayor’s Parlour.
It aims to raise funds for one-off grants to help young people who have left care in Brighton and Hove, and across Sussex to thrive.
Grants will be for a suit for a job interview, a deposit on a flat or help to fund driving lessons.
But why is this so important? Although care leavers make up just one per cent of the population, research shows that 11 per cent of homeless young people have been in care, and care leavers make up 24 per cent of the prison population.
Tom Bewick who is the chair of trustees, said: “I grew up in care, so I know what it is like to leave the responsibility of social services with no real plan for how to make a good transition to a more independent life.
“I was fortunate to have really exceptional foster parents who continued to support me. Without them, I would have been left homeless and my life could have turned out a lot less successful than it has done. I feel very fortunate now to have a great job and my own family to help raise and support.
“In recent years, things have improved a lot, with local councils under a duty to support care leavers’ up to their 25th birthday. But even then, care leavers can still fall through the gaps.
Young people with care experience have told us that they need to know that there is support available for relatively modest things, like money for driving lessons; a smart new suit for a job interview or perhaps a deposit to rent or buy a small flat. These are precisely the kind of things that those more fortunate will have access to with supportive networks and family to fall back on.”
The charity worked with care leavers to find out how they could benefit from the charity.
One care leaver, Hollie, 21, said: “I felt like some kids have got that financial set up from their parents. It’s just there and available to them.
“It is so nice that this is on offer. It gives you peace of mind that there is that support available.”
Tasha, 19, said: “I think it’s definitely needed as social care only helps at a certain time. It cuts off at 25 then you have no other support.”
The charity has already raised £5,000 through donations from Brighton and Hove City Council and corporate sponsor Pearson (BTEC and Apprenticeships).
The mayoral reception was sponsored by local business Quaff Wines Ltd.
Mr Bewick added: “With our emphasis on helping care leavers lead more skilled, productive and independent lives, working closing with the local council, we hope to develop a best practice model that perhaps other parts of the country will want to learn from.
“We also want to celebrate the success of care leavers and not just dwell too much on the negative aspects of what they face. The new trust will look to share these successes with those who donate and support our work, as well as help inform the public more widely about the challenges many care leavers face.”
To find out more, visit: beyondtrust.org.uk
To get involved, contact firstname.lastname@example.org