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South Hams taking big strides to support young people leaving care
25 October 2023
South Hams District Council is doing everything it can to offer support those in the area who are leaving care, to make sure they can thrive.
In September, we agreed to give a Council Tax discount to young people who have left the care system up to the age of 25. The move is designed to help care leavers make the transition to adulthood, offering a form of financial assistance that other young people may get through help from their parents.
But the tax discount is just one of the steps that we’re taking to support care leavers living in the District.
We’re putting in place a programme to help support care leavers into employment. This includes offering a two to four-week paid work experience placement, reserving some apprenticeship opportunities for care leavers and offering guaranteed interviews for those meeting minimum requirements, with support available from workplace mentors.
The Council is also supporting physical health and wellbeing by offering children in care (plus a carer), and care leavers up to the age of 25 a leisure pass that offers free access to the district’s four council-owned leisure centres at Totnes, Kingsbridge, Ivybridge and Dartmouth. These passes are being offered in partnership with Fusion Lifestyle.
We’re also putting into place a new collaborative approach to housing. For most young people leaving care, the pathway is straightforward, well planned and supported.
For a small proportion of individuals who present with complex additional needs, sustaining housing and engagement with support services can be very challenging.
South Hams is proud to be working in close partnership with Devon County Council and colleagues in other districts on developing a more robust and effective response to the needs of care leavers across the county.
Together we have supported a small cohort of care leavers to retain accommodation and enabled access to services to meet their support needs. This has involved a strong commitment to multi agency work, delivering housing services in a trauma informed way and demonstrating a higher level of flexibility and tolerance to meet individual need.
Our commitment to remaining engaged with these young people long term has enabled these young people to develop relationships and build trust with officers.
We are evaluating a variety of accommodation and support models, with a view to rolling out pilot projects across Devon.
Finally, we will be reviewing the support we offer to those of our employees who offer to foster or adopt children in care, in order to maximise the assistance, we offer them in what can be an emotionally challenging and time-consuming process.
Cllr Julian Brazil, Leader of the Council, said: “If you look at the statistics around homelessness and the criminal justice system, care leavers are a group of vulnerable people that very much need our support – as much as we can give. There is a moral imperative to help however we can.
“This work is a good example of the Council working in partnership with Devon County Council to do whatever we can to support residents of the South Hams.
“It is also an example of an issue that has united the Council across the political spectrum. The support we’re offering should help young people transition to adulthood and go on to lead successful, prosperous lives.”