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Our care leavers offer
Just because you are leaving care, or have already left care, we haven’t stopped caring about you. We want to make sure that you feel safe and supported and know where and who to go to for advice and help. Our Care Leaver Offer describes all the support available to young people who have left care.
To be able to get the support described in this offer you must have been in care for at least 13 weeks between the ages of 14 and 16 (including their 16th birthday) or for 13 weeks after their 16th birthday.
The support we must give Care Leavers by law
A Personal Adviser
A personal adviser is there to help you to prepare to live independently and to offer advice and support after you leave care. Personal advisers get involved in discussions about your needs and your pathway plan. You are able to ask to have support from a personal adviser up to the age of 25 whether you are in education or training or not.
A pathway plan is written by our 16+ Service after consultation with you and important people in your life. It sets out their needs, views and future goals, and exactly what support they will receive from us.
We try to let you keep the same personal adviser, though this will not always be possible. The amount of support that you receives from your personal adviser will depend on what you want and your circumstances.
We will consider with you what extra support you may need. You might, for example, need extra support because:
- you have special educational needs or a disability.
- you are an Unaccompanied Asylum Seeking Child (UASC) and your immigration status is unclear.
- you are in or leaving custody or you have had contact with the criminal justice system;
- you are a young parent; or
- you are going through a difficult time in your personal life.
We also understand that you may not wish to receive support from us.
You can come back for help and advice as many times as you need to up to your 25th birthday.
Care Leavers right to be heard and taken seriously
You have a right to be involved in all decisions about your plans for leaving care. You have a right to support from an independent advocate if you are thinking about challenging decisions about the care we give you.
Independent advocates can inform you about your rights and help you to be heard in meetings. They are separate from your social worker or leaving care support officer. Contatct the National Youth Advocacy Service
You have a right to see the information we keep about you, including the files and records written about you when you were in care. We will help you to understand your care history and early family life if this is what you want.
Leaving care before turning 18
We will encourage you to stay in care until you are 18. Most young people still live at home with their families at this age. If you choose to leave care before age 18, the law says we must provide you with suitable accommodation.
Support to engage in education, employment or training
We want to make sure every young person leaving care has the support to achieve their goals in life.
We must provide you with assistance with expenses linked with employment, education and training. In particular:
- We will provide you with a Higher Education bursary of at least £2,000 if you go to University.
- We will provide somewhere for you to stay during university holidays (or funding for this if you would prefer to make your own arrangements) if you are in Higher Education or in residential further education.
Other support the Council offers
If you are aged over 18, your personal adviser will help a you to find suitable accommodation. This might involve:
- Working with Housing Services to come up with suitable housing options for you, including supported accommodation if you are not ready or don’t want to have your own tenancy.
- If this is what you and your foster carers want, supporting you to remain with your foster carers under what’s called a ‘Staying Put’ arrangement. This can last until you are 21.
- Supported lodgings
- Support to access different housing options including social housing (this is accommodation managed by us or a housing association)
- Advice about holding down a tenancy, including avoiding rent or Council Tax arrears, paying bills and budgeting. We know it can be very hard having your own place for the first time. We will do whatever we can to ease the pressures on you and we can provide discounts and exemptions where this is appropriate.
- Helping you to claim housing benefit / universal credit.
- Practical support with moving into and furnishing your new home.
- Supporting you if you have a housing crisis, including helping if you are threatened with or lose a tenancy. Care leavers aged 18-20 are treated as a priority need group in homelessness legislation.
Council Tax Discount for Care Leavers
If you are a care leaver aged under 25 who is paying council tax or living with someone who pays council tax, we may be able to reduce the amount of council tax you pay.
To qualify for a reduction you must be:
- a care leaver under 25 years old
- live in Newcastle upon Tyne
- named on the council tax bill
The reduction can only be paid up to your 25th birthday.
For more information about the council tax discount or to apply click here.
Education, training and employment
We want care leavers to succeed in their education, training and employment.
We will ask you how you are doing and be ready to celebrate your achievements with them.
We will offer you:
- Careers information and advice;
- If you attend university, a Higher Education bursary of £2,000 to help with the cost of books and materials;
- Care leavers are a priority group for the 16 to 19 Bursary Fund administered by further education colleges, which pays a bursary of up to £1,200 a year to support vulnerable young people to participate in education;
- Support to meet your accommodation costs at university and transport costs when travelling to training, school/college, apprenticeships or job interviews;
- Support to buy tools, equipment, essential clothing, and books;
- Support if you choose to go to university, such as helping you obtain tuition fees and maintenance loans, travel costs at the start and end of term, and making sure you have somewhere to live whilst at university and during the holidays. We will help you choose the right course and university that matches your talents and interests;
- Opportunities for work experience, apprenticeships and employment within the council and our partners;
- The chance to attend and help organise celebration events when you achieve education, training and employment milestones.
Health and wellbeing
Below are some of the ways our care leaving team and personal adviser can support you to stay healthy and look after your physical and mental health.
- Give information on healthy living
- Give information on getting help to pay for prescriptions
- Support you to register with a GP / Dentist / Optician
- Support you to move from children’s mental health services to adult mental health services
- Give information about counselling services that are available locally
- Give you help with transports costs when attending health appointments
- If you are a young parent, take an interest in your child or children and support them to do the best for them. We will help you arrange childcare, if this is what you want.
- Offer of subsidised access to the leisure centres
- Give you information about health drop-in centres
- Work with you to make a ‘health passport’ containing key information from your childhood (for example, when and if they have had immunisations) and your current health needs.
We will try to help you financially, in a similar way to how parents would support their own children. Our help includes:
- Providing a leaving care grant to help you buy essential things when moving into their own home, which is £2,000.
- Giving you exemptions to or discounts on paying Council Tax. Exemptions to Council Tax will apply from April 2019.
- Providing or telling you about relevant money management courses
- Support to open a bank account.
- Support to gain important identification documents, such as a passport and/or provisional driving licence, before your 18th birthday.
- Support to get your National Insurance number.
- Exceptional financial support in emergencies.
- Providing a financial gift at birthdays or other celebrations.
As well as support from a Personal Adviser, we may be able to offer you additional practical and emotional support, such as through:
- Providing you with a mentor/peer mentor;
- Where appropriate, continuing to support contact with the ‘Independent Visitor’ you had while you were in care;
- Help to maintain or regain contact with people special to you or who cared for you in the past, like former foster carers or social workers.
Participation in Society
We want our care leavers to be active members of society, and to have all the chances in life that other young adults have. We can help you participate in society in the following ways:
- Being part of our care leavers group
- Providing information on groups and clubs you may wish to join
- Informing you about relevant awards, schemes and competitions you can enter, in line with your talents and interests
- Encouraging and helping you to enrol on the Electoral Register, so you can vote in elections
- Offering work experience with our Council
- Informing you about voluntary work that we think you may be interested in
- Informing and possibly helping with the cost of leisure activities
- Giving you advice and helping you to challenge any discrimination they face as a care leaver.
Other people who can help?
Many other organisations and services offer help. Some helpful links are included below:
- Newcastle Support Directory www.newcastlesupportdirectory.org.uk - a directory of services for Children and Young People, including support services, sports and leisure opportunities, clubs and societies.
- Sexual Health help and advice services
- Change, Live, Grow (Young people’s Services) https://www.changegrowlive.org/. - support for under 25’s around substance misuse and treatment, emotional wellbeing, offending and advocacy
- SCARPA (Children’s Society) https://www.childrenssociety.org.uk/ or telephone 0191 221 0836 - one to one support (including peer mentoring) for young people at risk of sexual exploitation
- Streetwise www.streetwisenorth.org.uk 0191 230 4500 - Counselling, NHS nurse support around sexual health, citizens advice and money management.
- Children North East Young People's Service www.children-ne.org.uk 0191 273 3997 - Counselling, Sexual health drops in, youth drop and activities
- NIWE Eating Distress Service www.niwe.org.uk 0191 0233
- Barnardos Orchard Mosaic- www.barnardos.org.uk 0191 212 0237 - therapeutic support services for young people around bereavement, sexual abuse and domestic violence.
- MESMAC www.mesmacnewcastle.com 0191 233 1333 - Support for gay, bisexual and transgender young men, support and advice, sexual health services and group work
- Albert Kennedy Trust www.akt.org.uk 0191 2810099 - Support service for LGBTQ young people around homelessness, bullying and Abuse, finding local groups and services and provide a digital mentor service
- Barnardos Independence Project www.barnardos.org.uk 0191 212 0237 - support around independent living, money management, relationships, emotional wellbeing.
Other Helpful Organisations
• Talk to Frank - information, advice and support about drugs
• Samaritans - talk to Samaritans any time, about anything that's worrying you
• Young Minds - mental health support for young people
• Centrepoint - support for young people affected by homelessness
• The Hide Out - support if you're affected by domestic abuse
• NHS Choices - health advice for young people
• Childnet - staying safe online
• Students against depression - information and help for anyone feeling depressed
• National Youth Advocacy Service - provides information, advice, advocacy and legal representation to young people up to 25
• The Mix - essential support for under 25s on all issues important to young people, including relationships, your body, money, crime, study and lifestyle.
• Talk to Frank - 0300 123 6600, open all day every day
• Samaritans - 116 123, open all day every day
• Childline (under 19s) – 0800 1111, open all day every day
• Mind infoline (mental health) - 0300 123 3393, open 9am to 6pm, Monday to Friday (except for bank holidays)
• Call 999 if you feel you or someone else is in immediate danger
Did you know?
Our Moving In project supporting Care Leavers was nominated for a CYP Now Award in the Leaving Care Category 2017.
Need more information?
If you would like to speak to somebody about our support to Care Leavers telephone our 16+ Team on 0191 2777 377