Working together for a better future for young adults leaving care

On 17 March 2023, 100 key decision makers from local authorities, housing associations and health organisations gathered together at Homerton College in Cambridge to hear keynote speeches from social care experts including Josh MacAlister, Mark Riddell MBE, Children’s Commissioner Dame Rachel De Souza and Clare Miller, CEO of Clarion Housing Group and ended the day being challenged by Break’s young people to think about the three areas that are most important to them: housing, mental health and the cost of living crisis. 

There was so much energy and passion in the room to make life better for young adults leaving care. But no one organisation can do this alone, and we’re looking forward to working together to make a real difference in young people’s lives…

"If I take a golden thread and weave it up and down this room, now imagine the hold becoming stronger. This is the magic of this room, that you are together to make a huge difference to these young men and women."

Lord Simon Woolley, Principal of Homerton College

What young people have told us is important

Good quality housing

Care leavers tell us that asking for help, particularly around housing can feel really tough for fear of being judged or rejected. They are told they need to 'move on' from their children's home or foster placement at 18 but don't feel that there are always the right options available to them as they are trying to move towards independence.

Keeping mentally well

Care leavers are finding it hard to find support for mental health issues, and when they do they don’t feel the support is sufficient enough to help them through what they’re going through. Short term treatment isn’t an option, particularly when the trauma you’ve experienced in childhood makes it really hard to trust.

Navigating the cost of living crisis

The cost-of-living crisis is having a significant impact on care leavers. They’re telling us that often it’s a choice between paying their rent or having enough money to spend on food. They don’t feel like they’re living, or even surviving, “existing” is the word one of the care leavers Break supports chose to use.

Josh MacAlister takes on tough questions set by care leavers

Prior to the event, care experienced young people set the following questions for Josh McAlister. Watch the video to see how he responded. 

  1. What input did you get from young people to create the care review? 
  2. Why do you think care experience should be a protected characteristic? 
  3. What do you think the barriers are for young people gaining employment and education? 
  4. How do you think mental health provision should change to support young people living independently? 
  5. How do you know what care leavers want when you have no care experience yourself? 
  6. How do you see care experienced young people influencing the wider conversation and the care agenda? 
  7. From your report, what is the most important change you think is needed? 
  8. Do you think the government have listened to your advice and do they go far enough? 

We will be creating more videos from the event – sign up at the bottom of this page to be the first to hear about them.

What did guests at the Summit pledge for young people?

At the end of the day we asked the room to write a pledge for the young people they work with, based on what they’d heard. Here are a selection of pledges we received:  

  • Speak with my employer about setting up apprenticeship and employment opportunities for care leavers.
  • Liaise with people I’ve met today to keep in touch about this important agenda.
  • Get young people involved in Norfolk’s commissioning services.
  • Make care leaver mental health a priority for our organisation. 
  • Keep talking, keep listening, keep challenging. 

What happens next?

What we learnt at Homerton College is what we knew all along, that in the East we have the drive, the passion and the determination to innovate to make life better for children leaving the care system. 

But we will be stronger if we work together. To be the first to receive videos and content from the event at Homerton college, and updates on what is happening next on this topic please sign up using the form below. 

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Press enquiries

Want to write a story about the work Break is doing or the challenges care leavers face? Contact Nikki Neile in Break’s Press Office by emailing or calling 07552864214.