AN OFFICIAL board commitment has been made to provide additional support to young people leaving care.
The Redcar and Cleveland Care Leaver Covenant – a national inclusion program aimed at helping out-of-care 16-25 year olds live independently – was recently officially approved by Cabinet.
The authority already offers additional learning, including Tom Patton, who was previously in care but now works for the board to help other care leavers, and other placement opportunities for care leavers.
Council officers will run workshops to share their skills and knowledge, including budgeting, independent living skills and safety.
Provide access to the council’s Handy Person service so that the young person can learn skills such as installing curtain rods in their home.
Councilor Alison Barnes, Cabinet Member for Children, said: “All of our young people deserve the best possible chance in life – but the sad reality is that many of our care leavers have a much tougher time than most of their peers. . National statistics are not good, with nearly 40% of care leavers aged 19 to 21 without education or employment and care leavers four times more likely to have mental health problems, often due to the isolation and loneliness. They are also much more likely to end up homeless.
The Care Leaver Covenant is an opportunity to improve these statistics. It’s really about fulfilling the most important role we all have on the board – as parent companies. Most of us, when we get our first home, can ask mom or dad for advice on who to call to get the boiler repaired, for example. If we were scared or felt alone, we might just come home with a hot meal and a shoulder to cry on. These young people don’t always have that.
“I would like to pay a very nice tribute to our early care team who have done an incredible job for these young people, for many years, often beyond their advisory role. I hear about them making sure their leavers get a Christmas present, or on a more serious note, making sure they feel safe.
“The Care Leaver Covenant aims to share more broadly the responsibility we have for our experienced young people in care – across the board and beyond. ”
Mr Patton, a former foster child, has become a youth engagement manager for the council’s Kickstart program, which gives a chance to young people struggling to find work.
Mr. Patton said: “I think I can offer something personal.
“Young people ask me how I feel about their situation – they know they can talk to me.
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Mr Patton, who lives in New Marske, said his mother died when he was two and he was finally placed in foster care at the age of 14 after a family caregiver had struggled to cope.
He took a BTEC course at Redcar & Cleveland College where he was named Student of the Year and also received another award for overcoming adversity.
The 23-year-old said he had lived through dark times as a child, eventually completing a two-year apprenticeship on the roads at city council, but had another hard blow when he was told that there was no job available at the end.
Mr. Patton added: “However, I never stopped working.
“I did all kinds of engineering, warehouse, delivery driver work, etc. But I wanted to give something back. I wanted to work with other young people like me. I know people in a situation similar to mine, but I haven’t budged. I don’t want that for other kids.
Mr. Patton is focused on securing a new backup qualification and continues to impress in his current role. He’s also had two other part-time jobs – working behind the bar at Boro FC and delivering pizza – and is focused on earning college degrees in the near future.
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