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New support for care leavers to help them manage their mental health in work

16 May 2019

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Young people leaving the care system across the UK are getting better access to support with their mental health thanks to a new partnership.

The Care Leaver Covenant, an initiative set up to help care leavers make a transition to independence, is working with Remploy, the disability, employment and skills specialist to support young care leavers and help them develop a plan to stay in, or return to work.

As part of the partnership, care leavers will be able to access individual workplace support from an experienced mental health practitioner for a period of nine months.

Matthew Gordon, who leads the delivery of the Care Leaver Covenant, said: “Young people transitioning out of care have often faced recurring and significant adversity, if not repeated traumatic experiences, in their youth. So it is vital that, as they become independent of local authority care, they have support with different areas of their life and wellbeing - mental health being one important area.”

The Access to Work Mental Health Support Service, is provided by Remploy and funded by the Department for Work and Pensions. It offers bespoke personal support for anyone struggling with their mental health to help them develop a plan to stay in, or return to work, as well as coping strategies or reasonable adjustments to help them overcome any barriers they may face.

It is estimated that about 10,000 young people leave the care system every year, with 40 per cent of care leavers aged 19-21 not in education, employment or training, compared to 13 per cent for this age group overall*. 

Ryan, who’s a care leaver, says: “I think lots of care leavers have challenges with their mental health because growing up we were always trying to adapt our personalities to different situations and fit-in in different places.” 

“There is definitely a taboo around mental health for care leavers, especially because we get labelled as ‘rough’ by a lot of people so it’s like we have this expectation to be tough but we also have all of these hard experiences from our childhood. It’s hard to know how to deal with that.”

Matthew added: “We are hoping the Remploy partnership only gets stronger. It is already becoming a fundamental aspect of the Covenant’s work relating to employment and employability. Our hope is that the partnership doesn’t only become an underpinning of all the Covenant’s work with care leavers, it helps to shift the culture of mental health discourse, tackling the ‘taboo’ element and opening up the conversation.”

For more information about the Access to Work Mental Health Support Service, or working in partnership with Remploy, please contact Chris Kingsbury on 0776 636 4155.

*https://www.gov.uk/government/news/major-new-scheme-launched-to-support-young-people-leaving-care