The countdown to turning 18 should be an exciting time for our young people – where you officially become an adult and you can have a lot more freedom however, this is not the case for many who are in the care system.
For our young care leavers reaching this milestone age can be a daunting experience due to the abrupt end of their time in care where they’re left to their own devices with little to no life skills or experience learnt. It becomes a struggle for them to know where to turn or what to do next.
In a recent Ofsted Survey, they found that one in three care leavers felt that they left care too early. This clearly demonstrates how hard the transition from care into independence can be and highlights that there is a clear lack of support and guidance from the people around them to set them up for their futures.
In the same survey, it was made clear that a third of the care leavers that were spoken to did not know where to get the help or support that they needed or know their rights. They stated that they felt as if they didn’t have people to talk to. This paired with feeling of being forced out of care, whether they were ready or not causes a lot of issues in beginning their life outside of the system.
Care leavers face the reoccurring feelings of feeling lost, lonely, and isolated so having the responsibility of moving out of care and into a life of complete independence can be extremely difficult. Many have faced years of trauma which can cause high levels of mental health issues and self-harm tendencies which can be heightened in a time of stress and uncertainty.
It is important to support these young people as they are some of the most vulnerable.
Due to the overwhelming number of pressures they face to be able to handle life outside of care they have very little opportunities, low self confidence levels, and lack of knowledge on how to go and achieve their goals. Some struggle to gain knowledge on simple principles that are key for moving into independence such as money management – many care leavers come out with debt due to not knowing what bills they had to pay or not learning how to budget.
Our Attain Project supports those who are care leavers with the transition into adulthood, providing 1-1 mentoring and befriending services that focus on personal development, social and emotional connections, and employment opportunities.
Our volunteer mentors – who are such a key part of the young people’s journey – will use their own life skills and knowledge to guide these individuals into achieving their goals and ambitions for the future. Their goals could be anything from learning to drive, to going into further education, apprenticeships, full time work or even finding themselves a new home. For many care leavers due to the lack of trust in people, they can struggle to form relationships, so our volunteers make sure they create a strong bond between themselves and the mentee for both to get the most out of the experience.
It is important for us to make the transition as easy as possible for our care leavers due to many having traumatic beginnings and having minimal support around them. We can do this by teaching them valuable life skills that will carry them into a successful adult life.
Find out more about our Attain Project www.transitionsuk.org/attain
Volunteer for Transitions UK www.transitionsuk.org/volunteer