This National Care Leavers Week, which runs from 28 October to 3 November and aims to raise aspirations of vulnerable young people leaving care, Together for Children is partnering with Springboard North East and the Foundation of Light to launch three new initiatives.
The North East has the highest proportion of young people aged 16 to 24 who are not in education, employment or training and for care leavers who may have experienced trauma and periods out of education, finding the right career path can be more difficult.
Together for Children, which delivers children’s services on behalf of Sunderland City Council, provides a care leavers Next Steps service that offers emotional, educational, careers, housing, benefits and financial support to care leavers aged 16 to 25.
Together for Children is partnering with established training provider, Springboard North East, to deliver functional skills English and maths to care leavers from its base located in The Bridges Shopping Centre.
In addition, Together for Children has partnered with Springboard to deliver the Young Mums programme that includes English and maths, healthy eating and weaning advice, with access to on on-site creche at Springboard’s River Green site in Pallion.
Steve Reay, Head of Development at Springboard, said: “We are offering care leavers the opportunity to gain Functional Skills and GCSEs, which are often a prerequisite for employers. Our training will see learners develop their skills in a practical way with budgeting and money management advice and support to progress onto vocational qualifications or to gain employment.”
Following successful pilots in other parts of the UK, a DWP initiative “Mentoring Circles” that offers support to young vulnerable job seekers aged 16 to 24 is being rolled out nationally. In Sunderland, Together for Children is partnering with the Foundation of Light.
Linda Hughes, Head of Skills at the Foundation of Light, said: “Our Mentoring Circle offer will see key members of our team meet with a group of eight to ten young people for a weekly two-hour session over a three-week period and talk about their own career, give an insight into the recruitment process and what employers look for in an applicant.”
Martin Birch, Director of Children’s Social Care at Together for Children, said: “Our Next Steps service is committed to providing our young people with greater understanding of the world of work and how they can become work-ready, more confident and motivated, so to be expanding our range of services and partnerships is great.”
Also happening during National Care Leavers Week, a group of young people who are preparing to leave care, were given the opportunity to try indoor climbing, abseiling, raft building and sea kayaking at Sunderland Marine Activity Centre.