How one care leaver could help transform the lives of thousands of others

Care leavers in the Midlands have welcomed a new tool which lays out the level of support every council in the country offers young people leaving the care system and how it differs depending on where you live.

It's been set up by a man from Nottingham who was moved around more than 100 times while in care.

Terry Galloway has set up the country's first comparison site for care leavers. It gives information on what every one of England's councils give to youngsters leaving a residential or foster home including accommodation and employment support.

There are details on whether the council offers subsidised access to leisure facilities or helps with paying for things like cooking equipment, decoration costs of a first home or broadband.

It also lists whether the council will assist with subsidised gym membership or make contributions to help the young person celebrate Christmas or their birthday.

Terry Galloway is the creator of the Care Leaver Offer Website.

Care Leaver advocate, Terry Galloway, said: "The website is the first comparison site in the UK that compares what local authorities do for their care leavers."

He says that what he wants to see, is that all of our care leavers get the same help, no matter where they live.

"For Coventry city council, on the website, you'll see that they do taster flats for care leavers. Taster flats for children coming out of the care system is such an important thing to prepare, them and not many councils across the UK do this."

"So what we have on the website, is not only case studies about taster flats, but we actually have the policy documents and resources that councils can use, to make it happen in their own areas."

"It really does hold them to account but it also provides resources so they can improve their offers and what we really want to see is that all our care leavers wherever they live get the same help."

His work has been welcomed by space engineering student and care leaver Casey Armstrong from Loughborough who told ITV Central that she was left in the dark about the range of support available to her when she first moved out of her foster home at 18.

Casey Armstrong, care leaver

Casey who is now 22 says she has had huge help from the charity Leicestershire Cares who have matched her up with a business mentor to help with her application to do astro physics at university.

She said: "I really hope this might start to put break down this postcode lottery because now it's out there for the whole country to see."

Jacob Brown from the charity said he thought Terry's website was a 'fantastic resource that would give the power back to the young people'.

Terry has also had support on twitter from Josh MacAlister who is leading the current Children's Social Care Review.

Mr MacAlister said: "A great resource that can be used by care experienced people to find out what they can access and for local authorities to find out how they can improve what they provide. Brilliant work."

Casey says she's had huge support from charity Leicestershire Cares Credit: ITV Central

Coventry City Council said its local offer was led by young people and co-produced with partners and businesses across the city.

The Strategic Lead for Looked After Children at Coventry City Council, Paul Smith, said: "This website is a great initiative that allows authorities to compare offers and identify ways of making things better for care leavers as they become adults."

"This will be an immense benefit for care leavers across the country.

Now Terry is hoping to spread the word about the new website during National Care Leavers Week 2021.

Deborah Taylor, lead member for children and families at Leicestershire County Council, said: “We know that leaving care involves a lot of changes and we are committed to doing all we can to support our young people through what can be a challenging time.

 “We’ve been working hard to ensure the voice of our care leavers and children in care is heard. Recently, this has included helping to design and launch our ‘promise’ to them which outlines the measures of support we have in place. 

From the ages of 16-21 young people have a variety of support, including a personal advisor who will ensure they are supported to live independently as they leave care."

In May this year the then education secretary Gavin Williamson announced a £51 million funding boost to help young people in the care system, and proposals to improve the quality of their accommodation.

The government says that all care leavers will be given a Personal Adviser until they are 25 and that their local authority will find them somewhere suitable to live.

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