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Benita is on the Civil Service Care Leavers Internship Scheme working at the Children’s Commissioner for England’s office as a Digital Engagement Assistant. In this blog we share her experience of attending an event to celebrate the internship scheme during National Care Leavers’ Week.

At the start of National Care Leavers’ Week, I attended an event at No10 Downing Street to celebrate care leavers and to thank those involved in the Civil Service Care Leavers Internship Scheme. The event was attended by the Minister of State (Minister for Veterans’ Affairs) Johnny Mercer and the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department for Education, David Johnston, alongside care leaver interns, policy officers and senior members of charities that support care leavers.

From the moment we arrived, we were greeted with a friendly atmosphere, everyone was really welcoming, and guests were chatting and networking with each other. The event began with a speech from Johnny Mercer and David Johnstone in which they expressed their goals for care leavers. They spoke about their ambitions to help care leavers from a variety of backgrounds thrive in the workplace, alongside in the wider world as well. It demonstrated that just because care leavers have gone through the system, this should not restrict their opportunities. Within the speech they emphasised that the Civil Service Care Leavers Internship Scheme is not a charity, they have a genuine concern for the potential of care leavers and want to support their development to achieve their ambitions – with each care leaver’s perspective taken into account and implemented. Their aim is for us to be the best country for handling the needs of care leavers.

A number of advantages of the internship scheme were highlighted at this event, including the opportunity for young people to gain independence, financial stability, gain valuable work experience, explore a career path, learn, or refine skills, and transition into employment. Furthermore, they discussed how well the scheme is doing in terms of enabling care leavers to succeed in their future endeavours.

Two care experienced people then delivered fantastic speeches on how the internship scheme has transformed their careers. In addition to describing the challenges they faced at the beginning, they discussed where they are today. Due to the fact that I myself am a care leaver on the internship scheme, it was inspiring to observe two other care leavers discussing their internship experiences.

It was evident throughout the speeches that the audience was very captivated and had a lot of laughter, which was a testament to the heartfelt and sincere nature of the speeches. Afterwards, I had a conversation with David Johnstone about my experience as a care leaver, how I am navigating the workplace and the importance of having a mentor or the right support unit. In spite of my initial nervousness, it was a really interesting conversation and it was great to see how passionate he was about the work he is doing towards this campaign.

Overall, it was an amazing event, which really brought to life some of the work taking place behind the scenes. It highlighted the importance of the internship scheme and what can be done collectively to improve the outcomes for care leavers. This event demonstrated how care leavers who have suffered unfortunate situations in life can succeed and make something of their lives. In order to nurture care leavers into their full potential, the right foundation or fundamentals must be laid.

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