A pioneering new company providing support and guidance to care leavers will be set up in Manchester after proposals to do so was given the green light on Wednesday 30 May by the Council’s Executive.
Manchester will be the first local authority in the country to adopt this approach to supporting care leavers through the creation of a wholly owned trading company – owned and operated by the Council.
Like all local authorities Manchester now has a duty to provide support to all care leavers who want it up to the age of 25. This includes assessing ongoing needs and ensuring every young person has access to a Personal Advisor.
The national Care Leavers Strategy from 2016 also introduced five key outcomes that every local authority should achieve for all young people leaving care.
These include the young person being better prepared and supported to live independently; improved access to education, employment and training; stability in their lives, feeling safe and secure; improved access to health support; and financial stability.
Since 1995 the Council’s Leaving Care Service has been delivered by a third party organisation, commissioned under contract by the Council. The current contract is due to run until 30 September this year.
Rather than simply look to re-contract the service after this date however, the new extended responsibilities local authorities now have for care leavers provide an opportunity to do things differently in order to ensure that every care leaver is supported to achieve the very best they can in all areas of their lives.
The Council is currently responsible for 750 care leavers, and it is estimated that there are around 250 additional young people aged 21 to 25 years of age who are now entitled to and may potentially request a service.
At the heart of the new company will be young people themselves who it is proposed will play a central part in its development, and also be actively involved in the company moving forwards.
This will include the appointment of a young care-leaver to the Board of the company – on the same terms as other Board members – to directly represent the voice of young people and to ensure the views and experiences of young people remain at the heart of what the company does.
Councillor Garry Bridges, Executive Member for Children’s Services, Manchester City Council, said: “The vast majority of our young people are lucky enough to have the support of their families behind them, looking out for them and pushing them on to future success.”
“For care-leavers however things can be very different and we’re determined to change this.”
“Our ambition is to give them the right help at the time they need it – wrapping as much care and support as they need around them so they thrive and succeed in all aspects of their lives.”
“Creating a new wholly owned company to do this, with the voice of young people at its heart, gives us an exciting opportunity to create a bespoke service for care-leavers that does just that.”
It is anticipated that the new company will be up and running in around six months’ time.