Helping young care leavers find their way in the world
“We know we’re still at the beginning of a long journey to get to a point where someone with care experience has all of the support they need to thrive, but we are committed to ensuring Clarion Housing Group plays its part, and that’s why we’re a proud signatory of the Care Leaver Covenant.”
By Sarah Mitton, Age Friendly Communities Manager at Clarion Futures
This year in the UK, around 36,000 children and young people – around 100 every day – will enter the care system.1
As National Care Leavers’ Week kicks off, we’re taking the time to reflect on the challenges facing young care leavers and the support we can provide as a social landlord.
According to the Department for Education, in 2020/21 there were 44,590 care leavers in England aged 17 to 21, and those young people generally experienced worse outcomes than their peers across health, employment, education and the justice system.2
One of the most shocking statistics to come out of the ‘Keep on Caring’ paper published by the government back in 20163 is that one third of care leavers become homeless in the first two years after they leave care, and 25% of homeless people have been in care at some point in their lives.
Consequently, eighteen months ago, a group of passionate staff from across Clarion Housing Group came together to explore how we could enhance our offer for those with care experience living in our communities. With representatives from all areas of the business, including those with care experience themselves, we embarked on a journey to ensure care leavers had the right support and were able to access positive opportunities to grow in our communities.
Supporting residents with care experience
The first project we launched looked to offer support to young care leavers moving into their first home in order to reduce eviction rates and the risk of youth homelessness. Hometruths House was co-designed by young people and offers workshops sharing insights and information needed when moving into your first home.
The sessions are co-delivered by young people and Clarion staff, and we were able to secure funding from one of our contractors to offer £250 as a ‘home starter voucher’ to those with care experience. More than 200 young people, including many care leavers, have now received support through the Hometruths House programme and the feedback has been universally positive.
Then in 2021, our Chief Executive, Clare Miller, joined the business council of the Care Leaver Covenant, a national inclusion programme funded by the Department for Education that supports care leavers aged 16-25 to live independently.
This partnership has catalysed our work and in March 2023 we signed the Covenant with the promise of enhancing our housing offer through five key areas focusing on independent living, education, employment and training, safety and security, mental and physical health and finance.
Since signing the Covenant, we have developed a set of commitments to provide support and opportunities to any Clarion resident with care experience. Indeed, since March we have invested in a programme of Adverse Childhood Experiences training for staff across the business to ensure that staff have the skills to provide support to those who might need it.
We’ve also committed to offering interviews to care leavers who meet the minimum criteria for jobs at Clarion and have improved our onboarding process for new residents so that we can identify the right support at the right time for young people moving into our neighbourhoods.
This National Care Leavers’ Week we will be launching an internal mentoring programme, offering 1:1 mentoring and support to any young care leaver moving into a Clarion home. This offer is in addition to our existing Tenancy Sustainment service, which gives intensive support to those with care experience during the first few months of their tenancy, as well as the wide-ranging support we provide through Clarion Futures.
We know we’re still at the beginning of a long journey to get to a point where someone with care experience has all of the support they need to thrive, but we are committed to ensuring Clarion Housing Group plays its part, and that’s why we’re a proud signatory of the Care Leaver Covenant.