25th October 2022

A practical guide for care leavers

This National Care Leavers Week I have set out my ambitions for care leavers. During the week I also want to share what my office has been doing to support you. and this practical guide, which you might find useful.

One of the things I have heard from you is that it is often hard to find discounts, grants, funding and career opportunities and to know how to access them. My office has developed this list so that you can find ones that are relevant to you.

I also want to take this opportunity to urge all businesses, charities and other organisations to join those who have already set out an offer for care leavers. Now is the moment to tell me what you will pledge to do for care leavers, and I will share it directly with care leavers. I will re-share this list with additional offers at the end of National Care Leavers Week as well as continuing to update it throughout the year.

My Help at Hand team is here to support you on a on a wide range of issues including housing, financial support, education, and access to your full leaving care package. Help at Hand offer free independent advice, assistance, and representation. They particularly help with cases where you aren’t getting the support you are entitled to.

My team also run the IMO (In My Opinion) peer-led website which provides a space for you to come together with other teenagers in care and care leavers and share stories, experiences and achievements, and get and give advice.

Below you can find information related to:


Housing and living

  • There is a care leavers app which some Local Authorities are now using to stay in touch, provide information and advice, promote local events and services and share discounts, offers and deals.
  • Council tax exception for care leavers up to the age of 25 – apply via your local council webpages.
  • You might be eligible for universal credit including housing benefit. You can also search for Local Housing Allowance rates by postcode or local authority.
  • Leaving Care Grant/Setting up home allowance) – you can receive up to £2,000 for furniture and equipment when moving into permanent independent housing – discuss with your PA.
  • Some local councils offer to cover your TV licence for your first year living independently.
  • The Settle programme is made up of weekly, one-to-one sessions that are delivered by Programme Officers in your home. They help with managing money and increasing income, offer practical guidance for independent living, and getting extra help when it’s needed.
  • The Guarantor scheme is where your Local Authority acts as the Guarantor if you’re leaving foster care and want or need to go into the private rental sector. Check with your PA if your Local Authority has signed up to the scheme or runs their own.
  • The Princes Trust have pulled together a list of organisations that can help offer advice and on finding and living in Supported Housing.
  • Some gas, electric and water suppliers offer discounts to care leavers – check with your supplier.
  • The National Youth Advocacy Service Knapman Fund is available for care-leavers aged 16-25 living in England and Wales who have previously been supported by NYAS. can fund a range of items, such as household goods, training courses, driving lessons and laptops.
  • Some councils offer financial support for learning to drive, for example Medway Council share information on their offer. Discuss with your PA to find out if your local council can help with these costs.
  • The Care Leavers Association have created leaving care guides.
  • The Rees Foundation offer financial support to help in emergency for things like gas or electric and essential travel costs. And if short of food they can provide grocery gift vouchers. For essential items, training courses and education.
  • Share Found’s Stepladder of Achievement is online learning for building your skills and confidence in six steps: literacy, numeracy, financial capability, planning for the future, managing your money and securing further education, employment or training.
  • If you need support with food your local council may offer supermarket vouchers or will be able to refer you to foodbanks. Talk to your PA or social worker if that would help.
  • Capstone Care Leavers Trust award grants for education, training courses, laptops for education, study materials, driving lessons and household goods.
  • Citizens Advice offers free, confidential information and advice to assist with legal, debt, consumer, housing and other problems.
  • Buttle UK offer grants for young people up to the age of 20 to provide items and activities.
  • if you have a long-term physical or mental health condition or disability and difficulty doing certain everyday tasks or getting around because of your condition you can apply for Personal Independence Payment (formerly Disability Living Allowance (DLA)
  • Shelter can help with housing problems and share housing advice.
  • Become share information to support you in preparing to leave care.

 Further and Higher Education

  • Most universities have grants and support for care leavers. My office has developed a list of support details and funding information for care leavers and care leaver team contacts for UK colleges and universities.
  • If you are a care leaver who is thinking about applying to university or have already secured a place we have created a practical guide for starting university.
  • You can apply for a Higher Education bursary of £2,000 paid by councils. Local councils often can support financially with your accommodation over summer as well.
  • Apprenticeships – As a care leaver you are entitled to a £1000 bursary if you start an apprenticeship. This is paid via your employer. You can find out more about apprenticeships on the National Careers Service website.
  • The National Youth Advocacy Service Knapman Fund is available for care-leavers aged 16-25 living in England and Wales who have previously been supported by NYAS. can fund a range of items, such as household goods, training courses, driving lessons and laptops.
  • Schools, colleges and councils can support you in getting a laptop or tablet for education.
  • The Rees Foundation offer financial support for training courses and education.
  • Share Found’s Stepladder of Achievement is online learning for building your skills and confidence in six steps; literacy, numeracy, financial capability, planning for the future, managing your money and securing further education, employment or training.
  • Lots of LAs offer financial support to meet your transport costs when travelling to training, school/college, apprenticeships or job interviews.
  • Capstone Care Leavers Trust award grants for further and higher education courses.

Discounts

  • The Care Leaver Covenant have a list of discounts available.
  • Totum cards (formerly NUS Extra cards) offer discounts for students and members of professional bodies. You can also get a Totum card from some employment unions.
  • NUS Apprentice Extra cards offer discounts if you are doing an apprenticeship.
  • Culture Card gives free access to cultural places in Cornwall for Young People who are Care Experienced, plus a guest. If your Local Authority is Cornwall you should receive one in the post.
  • The Barnardo’s Care Journeys website page has a list of places and extra discounts available at their 600 stores nationally Care Leaver Covenant | Care Journeys (barnardos.org.uk)
  • Some local councils and gyms offer discounted gym memberships.
  • Your local council might offer discounted travel on public transport and bike schemes
  • Some local councils offer their own grants for care leavers. These can range for support to do a hobby, to purchase equipment or for training. Surrey County Council offerThe Celebration Fund to recognise and reward care leavers for their achievements..
  • Achieving for Children (AfC) Kingston and Richmond Care Council have created a list of discounted and free tickets to theatre shows around London. You can also get discounted tickets to Roundhouse, London.

Parenting and childcare

  • Many Local Fire Services offer safety checks to make sure your home is safe for a young family.
  • If you’re under 20 the Care to Learn scheme can help with childcare costs whilst you’re studying.
  • Childcare Choices shares the different support you might be entitled to.
  • Gingerbread offer free advice and support services for single parents.
  • Young Parents Advice offers information and advice on working with your social worker and PA.
  • The Government website offers information on childcare and parenting. In the schools and education section it shares how to apply for a school place and financial support you might be entitled to.
  • For Baby’s Sake is an innovative programme which takes a whole family approach to breaking the cycle of domestic abuse and childhood trauma for expectant parents and babies alike.
  • NHS Start4Live offers help and advice during pregnancy, birth and parenthood. They also share advice for parents on supporting children who are experiencing mental health problems.
  • You might be eligible for universal credit including child tax credit.
  • You can discuss with your PA/social worker getting an Early Help Assessments (EHA) which is used to identify a child and family’s needs and strengths, and to plan the right support and services to address those needs at an early stage.

 Jobs and skills

  • John Lewis Partnership run the Better Futures Employment Programme
  • The Civil Service run a 12-month internship programme for care leavers.
  • Smart Works offer unemployed women or women on 0 hours contracts career coaching, one-to-one interview training and a bespoke dressing consultation to find a beautiful and high-quality interview outfit – all of which is free and the outfit is yours to keep. You can be referred to Smart Works through our Help at Hand service or via IMO. They are also piloting a care leaver programme in London with additional benefits and with the aim to learn from the first year and roll out the programme across all the sites. There main programme is open to care leavers though at all sites across the UK.
  • You can get funding from The Princes Trust to train and learn.
  • The Princes Trust also run programmes to help you start your business, get a job and develop your skills to build your confidence.
  • In case you need any CV tips, have a look at the CV Advice – Youth Employment UK and their general career’s advice Careers Advice and Help – Youth Employment UK. You can also ask for support from organisations/people working within the career that you want to go into – they often are happy to have a conversation with you and explain more about the career or role you are applying for. If you are at the stage before applying you can also ask for people to look at your CV and provide some feedback. Clarke Willmott Solicitors also offer support with writing your CV and Interview Skills.
  • IMO career experienced people series platforms people with care experience and the brilliant careers they’ve created for themselves, and shares their career advice. We will be adding to the series over the following year.
  • Budgeting tool helpful to plan with allowances/bursaries/expenses entitled to budget
  • Drive Forward offer training, development and career opportunities.
  • The National Youth Advocacy Service Knapman Fundv is available for care-leavers aged 16-25 living in England and Wales who have previously been supported by NYAS. It can fund a range of items, such as household goods, training courses, driving lessons and laptops.
  • The Rees Foundation offer financial support to help out in emergency for things like gas or electric and essential travel costs. And if short of food they can provide grocery gift vouchers. For essential items, training courses and education.
  • Share Found’s Stepladder of Achievement is online learning for building your skills and confidence in six steps; literacy, numeracy, financial capability, planning for the future, managing your money and securing further education, employment or training.
  • Capstone Care Leavers Trust award grants for training courses, laptops for education, study materials and driving lessons.
  • You might be eligible for universal credit including Income Support, income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA), income-related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA), Working Tax Credit.
  • The Care Leaver Covenant Football Family shares football clubs that offer a variety of things for care leavers this could be employability support, free football and fitness sessions, educational opportunities and mentoring support.
  • Career Pilot provide information and tools to help you explore your future career.

Mentoring

A range of organisations offer one-to-one mentoring for care leavers. You can also approach people within your industry and ask them to be your mentor if career mentoring is of particular interest.