Newcastle Local Care Leaver Offer
Our Local Care Leaver Offer tells care leavers about all the support in Newcastle available to them as we know it is a big step when they move out of care and start living on their own or with friends.
Just because young people are leaving care, or have already left care, we haven’t stopped caring about them. We want to make sure that they feel safe and supported and know where and who to go to for advice and help.
To be able to get the support in this offer a young person 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
Care leavers are able to ask to have support from a personal adviser (a social worker or leaving care support officer from our 16+ / care leaver service) up to the age of 25 whether they are in education or training or not. This is to try to make sure care leavers receive similar support to young adults who live with their families.
A personal adviser is there to help care leavers to prepare to live independently and to offer advice and support after they leave care. Personal advisers get involved in discussions about Care Leaver’s needs and their pathway plan.
A pathway plan is written by our 16+ Service after consultation with the Care Leaver and important people in their life. It sets out their needs, views and future goals, and exactly what support they will receive from us.
We try to let care leavers keep the same personal adviser, though this will not always be possible. The amount of support that the Care Leaver receives from their personal adviser will depend on what they want and their circumstances.
We will consider with care leavers what extra support they may need. They might, for example, need extra support because:
- They have special educational needs or a disability.
- They are an Unaccompanied Asylum Seeking Child (UASC) and their immigration status is unclear.
- They are in or leaving custody or they have had contact with the criminal justice system;
- They are a young parent; or
- They are going through a difficult time in their personal life.
We also understand that care leavers may not wish to receive support from us.
Care Leavers can come back for help and advice as many times as they need to up to their 25th birthday.
Care Leavers right to be heard and taken seriously
Care leavers have a right to be involved in all decisions about their plans for leaving care. They have a right to support from an independent advocate if they are thinking about challenging decisions about the care we give them.
Independent advocates can inform care leavers about their rights and help them to be heard in meetings. They are separate from the Care Leaver’s social worker or leaving care support officer. The National Youth Advocacy Service can be contacted at https://youngpeople.nyas.net/
Care leavers have a right to see the information we keep about them, including the files and records written about them when they were in care. We will help them to understand their care history and early family life if this is what they want.
Leaving care before turning 18
We will encourage care leavers to stay in care until they are 18. Most young people still live at home with their families at this age. If they choose to leave care before age 18, the law says we must provide care leavers 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 care leavers with assistance with expenses linked with employment, education and training. In particular:
- We will provide them with a Higher Education bursary of at least £2,000 if they go to University.
- We will provide somewhere for them to stay during university holidays (or funding for this if they would prefer to make their own arrangements) if they are in Higher Education or in residential further education.
Other support the Council offers
If they are aged over 18, their personal adviser will help the Care Leaver to find suitable accommodation). This might involve:
- Working with Housing Services to come up with suitable housing options for them, including supported accommodation if they are not ready or don’t want to have their own tenancy.
- If this is what they and their foster carers want, supporting them to remain with their foster carers under what’s called a ‘Staying Put’ arrangement. This can last until they 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 care leavers and we can provide discounts and exemptions where this is appropriate.
- Helping them to claim housing benefit / universal credit.
- Practical support with moving into and furnishing their new home.
- Supporting them if they have a housing crisis, including helping if they are threatened with or lose a tenancy. Care leavers aged 18-20 are treated as a priority need group in homelessness legislation.
Education, training and employment
We want care leavers to succeed in their education, training and employment. We will ask them how they are doing and be ready to celebrate their achievements with them.
We will offer care leavers:
- Careers information and advice
- If they 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 their 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 they choose to go to university, such as helping them obtain tuition fees and maintenance loans, travel costs at the start and end of term, and making sure they have somewhere to live whilst at university and during the holidays. We will help them choose the right course and university that matches their 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 young people achieve education, training and employment milestones.
Health and wellbeing
Below are some of the ways our care leaving team and personal adviser can support Care leavers to stay healthy and look after their physical and mental health. We can:
- Give information on healthy living
- Give information on getting help to pay for prescriptions
- Support them to register with a GP / Dentist / Optician
- Support them to move from children’s mental health services to adult mental health services
- Give information about counselling services that are available locally
- Give them help with transports costs when attending health appointments
- If they are a young parent, take an interest in their child/ren and support them to do the best for them. We will help them arrange childcare, if this is what they want.
- Offer of subsidised access to the leisure centres
- Give them information about health drop-in centres
- Work with them to make a ‘health passport’ containing key information from their childhood (for example, when and if they have had immunisations) and their current health needs.
We will try to help care leavers financially, in a similar way to how parents would support their own children. Our help includes:
- Providing a leaving care grant to help them buy essential things when moving into their own home, which is £2,000
- Giving them exemptions to or discounts on paying Council Tax. Exemptions to Council Tax will apply from April 2019
- Providing or telling them 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 their 18th birthday
- Support to get their 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 care leavers additional practical and emotional support, such as through:
- Providing them with a mentor/peer mentor;
- Where appropriate, continuing to support contact with the ‘Independent Visitor’ they had while they were in care;
- Help to maintain or regain contact with people special to them or who cared for them 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 them participate in society in the following ways:
- Being part of our care leavers Group
- Providing information on groups and clubs they may wish to join
- Informing them about relevant awards, schemes and competitions they can enter, in line with their talents and interests
- Encouraging and helping them to enrol on the Electoral Register, so they can vote in elections
- Offering work experience with our Council
- Informing them about voluntary work that we think they may be interested in
- Informing and possibly helping with the cost of leisure activities
- Giving them advice and helping them 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
Directory of services for Children and Young People, including support services, sports and leisure opportunities, clubs and societies.
- Change, Live, Grow (Young people’s Services) www.changelivegrow.org
Support for under 25’s around substance misuse and treatment, emotional wellbeing, offending and advocacy
- SCARPA (Children’s Society) www.childrensociety.org.uk 0191 221 0836
One to one support (including peer mentoring) for young people at risk of sexual exploitation
- Streetwise www.streetwise.org.uk 0191 230 4500
Counselling, NHS nurse support around sexual health, citizens advice and money management.
- WEYES 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 groupwork
- 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 Weblinks
- 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
- Brook.org.uk - sexual health advice and information for young people
- Worth talking about - helpline providing information, advice and guidance for young people aged 12-18 on sexuality and sexual health. Issues dealt with include contraception, pregnancy, family planning clinics, sexually transmitted diseases, peer pressure and relationships.
- 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 - site contains excellent 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.
- Contact the 16+ Service
- Newcastle Care leavers’ Charter
- 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