The University of Manchester is delighted to announce that it has signed the Care Leaver Covenant.
The covenant is a promise made by the private, public and voluntary sectors to provide support for care leavers aged 16-25 to help them move from Local Authority care to living independently.
For many young people, the transition to adulthood is a time of excitement and possibility as they gradually spread their wings and build skills that prepare them for the future. However, for those in care, their 18th birthday is often a time wracked with anxiety and uncertainty as they ‘age out’ of the care system and are suddenly thrust into a life of independence.
While some ongoing financial and pastoral support is provided by Local Authorities, at 18 care leavers are expected to support themselves financially, budget effectively and set up homes for themselves – all without the security of stable family support to fall back on.
And yet, evidence from the Government’s 2016 Keep on Caring report would suggest that many young people lack the resources to tackle these challenges effectively, with 40% of all care leavers aged 19-21 not in employment, education or training compared to 14% of all 19-21 year olds. In addition, 20% of all homeless young people have been in care, and only 7% of care leavers go to university compared with around 40% of their peers.
Our pledge builds on a well-established body of work supporting access to higher education, and lays out our commitment to current and prospective students, as well as care experienced people in our wider community.
In signing the covenant, our institution has committed to creating an accessible and welcoming environment for care leavers of all ages. We invite them to broaden their horizons and increase social capital by participating in community engagement activities, support them in employability and skill building through our partnership with The Works and actively promote University-run services which may be beneficial to them.
Our Chancellor Lemn Sissay is a long-standing champion for care leavers needs, and welcomed this development, saying:
You can view our pledge on the Care Leaver Covenant website.