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There are currently 103,000 children and young people in care in the UK and each year around 10,000 young people will leave the care system. It is likely that the life chances and outcomes of these young people will be much less than their peers.

Here are some further statistics for you – 25% of the prison population are care experienced, only 7% of care leavers will find their way into higher education, approximately 39% of care leavers aged 19-21 are not in education, employment or training, and around 33% who leave care will become homeless within two years. Sobering I know.

These young people typically leave the care system at 18, although some can be as young as 16 or 17 if they actively choose to leave care. The majority of care leavers are leaving care without the adequate support systems in place to guide them on their path to independence or have the financial assistance of the bank of mum and dad.

Add to this Covid-19. The pandemic and lockdowns have had a disproportionate impact on young people, in particular disadvantaged and vulnerable groups. Many care leavers have been isolated and lonely while persevering with their studies online, they have lost jobs and many employment opportunities are now no longer available.

No wonder the futures of so many of these young people can easily take an alternative path and before you know it a young care leaver becomes another statistic.

I care passionately about these young people, not because I’m care experienced myself but because I strongly believe that all young people, no matter their background, deserve to have the same opportunities and life chances.

It’s time to drive change

Now, imagine if your business could do something to reverse the trends highlighted above and help a few of the 10,000 young people who will leave care this year. Well it can. We all have an opportunity to drive change and improve the life chances of these young people.

If you are a purpose driven business with social value at its heart now is the time to check out the work of the Care Leaver Covenant to see how your business or organisation can make a difference.

The Covenant is a promise made by private, public or voluntary organisations to provide support for care leavers aged 16-25 to help them to live independently. Tangible opportunities for care leavers are created, including employment, education and training, safety and security, health, financial independence and independent living.

To date, the Covenant has created more than 2,000 employment, training and life skills opportunities for young care leavers since its launch in 2018.

Social is proud to have joined national organisations like ITV, Amazon, Trowers & Hamlins, Leicester City Football Club, PwC, Compass Group, Metro Bank and ENGIE to become a Covenant signatory.

Each week the Covenant sends opportunities out to its engaged network of around 2,200 young people who access these opportunities through the Covenant’s app and community portal, Connects.

Many of the opportunities are ongoing and easy to access: Metro Bank’s account-opening opportunity is open to the 100,000+ care leavers in England, as is Remploy’s opportunity of employment-related mental health counselling.

Social’s offer

At Social, we have pledged to offer advice, guidance and targeted mentoring to care leavers who are interested in applying for work in public relations and communications, such as how to prepare compelling job applications, talking through a day in the life of a social media executive, and offering insight into the different jobs and career paths available.

Members of our team are offering one hour mentoring sessions for up to 12 care leavers every six months and we are committed to offering broader support as the programme develops. We are keen to share our knowledge and experience with the next generation and to inspire care leavers that a career in PR is a path they can follow.

Each organisation that commits to the Care Leaver Covenant will be able to offer a support package to care leavers that is tailored to their specific expertise.

Now is the time for businesses to unite and pledge their support to the Care Leaver Covenant. You can follow the Covenant on Twitter @careleavercov and on Instagram careleavercovenant.