Government minister Stuart Andrew meets a care leaver on a visit to the Onwards and Upwards hub

Barnet Council has signed up to a pledge to provide further support to help care leavers realise their ambitions.

The council has joined the Care Leaver Covenant – a promise made by the private, public and voluntary sectors to provide additional support for care leavers aged 16-25 to help them to live independently.

Opportunities on offer through the national scheme include employment, training and holistic support with organisations ranging from global media companies to nationwide law firms and government departments.

To help achieve the covenant’s aims, the council, working in partnership with colleagues from Department for Work and Pensions and its internal employment and education provision, Barnet Education and Learning Services (BELS), seeks to support more young people remaining in and accessing education, employment and training opportunities.

The council has been working with its green spaces service to develop opportunities to study horticulture and is creating an apprenticeship offer for care-experienced individuals.

Barnet Council provides a comprehensive support programme for care leavers, including “service for life” support to 325 care-experienced young people through its Local Offer and its dedicated Onwards and Upwards hub.

This includes a virtual school to provide information about careers, jobs, education courses, volunteering and training opportunities.

The hub provides support with housing, mental health, education, employment and training. It also helps care leavers with life skills from money management and budgeting skills support to preparation for independent living, as well as holding celebration events throughout the year.

Barnet Council has also established its own charity, Live Unlimited, which was set up in February 2018 to provide support for looked after children and care leavers beyond what the council can offer as part of its legal duties and responsibilities.

Jenni Mohammadi, a Barnet care leaver and Live UnlimitedExternal link trustee, said: “Becoming a partner of the Care Leaver Covenant marks a pivotal step forward for Barnet Council and, more importantly, for the care leavers within our community. This partnership not only signifies a commitment to the well-being of care leavers but also ensures that the array of opportunities provided by the Covenant are widely accessible to all individuals in our borough.

“The Care Leaver Covenant, with its offerings such as reduced-price gym memberships and diverse job opportunities, has the potential to empower care leavers by creating avenues for personal and professional growth. By promoting these opportunities throughout our community, Barnet Council is actively contributing to the positive trajectory of care leavers’ lives.

“This partnership reinforces the idea that every care leaver in our borough deserves not just support but also a chance to thrive. It is a step towards inclusivity and empowerment which will have an impact.”

Cllr Pauline Coakley-Webb, Cabinet Member for Family Friendly Barnet, said: “We’re committed to providing the best possible support for our care leavers to help them fulfil their dreams and ambitions.

“The Care Leaver Covenant provides a range of extra opportunities for employment, training and support that go beyond the statutory duty of councils. We are proud to join this scheme, which will build on our comprehensive offer of support for our care leavers.”

Gareth Evans, Director of Operations for the Covenant at Spectra, which delivers the programme for the Department for Education, said: “We are delighted that Barnet Council has joined our rapidly growing network of organisations which are supporting care leavers to make their next steps.

“Barnet is going beyond its statutory duty as ‘corporate parent’ to provide even greater support to care leavers and connecting them to opportunities in education, work, health, personal finances and their home.

“Through its partnership with the Covenant, Barnet Council will also help to unlock opportunities across the borough from businesses, public services and voluntary organisations.”

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