- Date: 23/10/2023
Care Leavers Week: Honeycomb Group raises the voices of young care leavers in Stoke-on-Trent
Since 2019, we’ve been supporting young care leavers through our homelessness specialist, Concrete, and their dedicated young person's service.
The service, located in Stoke-on-Trent, is currently home to over 30 care leavers, who have already experienced lots of disruption and uncertainty in their lives, despite their young ages.
Young care leavers will often experience what is known as 'the care cliff.’ This is when a teenager turns 18, ages out of the care system and is left feeling like they’re on a cliff edge with nowhere to turn. To combat this locally, Concrete’s young person’s service provides care leavers with a safe place to live, tailored support, career guidance, training opportunities and help with budgeting and living independently.
To mark this year’s Care Leavers Week, we're raising the voices of the young care leavers that we support. We asked them what they would like to change about the care system to make it better for the next generation of care leavers.
We asked them all one question – what would you change about the care system to make it better for the next generation of care leavers? Here’s what they said:
Charlie*, 19 said: “One of the biggest faults with the care system is people becoming foster carers for the wrong reasons. There needs to be more of a screening process for new foster carers so you know who is doing it for the right reasons. You should become a foster carer because you genuinely care and want to help someone, not for the money.”
Housing Support Coach Mohammed with a young care leaver
Brooke*, 18, agreed with Charlie. She added: “There should be more people with lived experience working in the care system. There should also be more opportunities for people who have lived experience to break into the sector. A lot of people have said to me ‘I understand’, and I just think, ‘no – you really don’t.’ If someone has that lived experience they can relate to you so much more and really ‘get’ what you’re going through.”
Layla*, 18, wished there were more places like it across the country. She said: “I do feel really lucky to be here because I know there are hundreds of young people waiting for an opportunity to live somewhere like this. There are people lining up to be here because they’re in horrible situations at home or have nowhere to go after leaving the care system.”
Peter*, 18, was moved around five times before coming to Concrete. He said: “There definitely needs to be more consistency around where you are placed. I was in different cities and it was really difficult to settle. You can’t relax or make any kind of progress because you’re always thinking ‘where am I going next?’ There needs to be more consistency and you need to know that when you’re placed somewhere, that’s where you’ll stay for a long period of time.”
Concrete’s Operations Manager for Young People, Anna Mather, leads the team at our young person’s service.
She said: “It’s always so empowering and eye-opening to hear what our young care leavers think about the system. They’ve been through it, not us, so they know first-hand what needs changing to make it better for the next generation.
Young Person's Operations Manager, Anna Mather
“Being a teenager and then a young adult is tough enough. When you add the uncertainty and difficult times that our young people have already faced, it’s even harder.
“At Concrete’s young person’s service, we work hard every day to make a difference to young care leavers. We want them to feel excited and ready for a brand-new chapter where they can achieve anything they want to, because they absolutely can.”
*names changed to protect identities