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Levelling up the care experienced network deficiency

14 Jun 2021

Leicestershire Cares creates opportunities for care experienced young people to build new networks and connections that open up opportunities, aspirations, enhances their employability chances and support them to find their own solutions to problems they face.

By listening to our care experienced young people, we know that they often do not have the family networks that can support or connect them into employment or training opportunities. Family networks that can act as a safety net if they wish to take a risk or an unpaid internship. Family networks that have helped them learn trust and form positive social networks that can sustain them during their lives.

Our leaving care work is underpinned by our Power to Change Approach which focuses on building relationships, networks and connections which help people get on with life. These networks become their back up, source of inspiration and strength.

Mentoring: creating new professional networks for care experienced young people that open the door to opportunities they previously would not have had

Our co-designed care leaver mentoring programme is producing amazing outcomes already. Building new networks, building confidence and building a brighter future

“I’m the first care experienced young person my Personal Assistant (PA) has worked with that wants to go to university. It’s new to her and she is learning as she goes, but there is so much stuff she just doesn’t know, or I don’t know.

My PA has a big caseload and can’t come on all the open days I’d like to go to. It’s tough for her to give me advice on which unis to go to and she doesn’t have any contacts to people in the field I want to go in.

But then my mentor from Leicestershire Cares came into my life! She has connected me to people that I can now speak to about the area I want to go into.

My mentor has links to people that know the uni system and people who have gone to the universities I am interested in. They can give me the low down on the uni life and what the area is like.

Making the choice of going to university for a care experienced young person is so hard. The pressure of ‘what if I go to the wrong uni and I don’t get on there?’ is huge. What if I’m them stuck there, locked into an accommodation contract, as I’ve given up where I’m living now. No home elsewhere to escape to.

This mentoring programme is giving me the chance to hear from people’s first-hand experiences on things, not having to hope that google can answers all my questions.”

Care experienced young person

Educated Networks < Networks

We work in a creative and agile manner and listen to the voices and lived experience of the care experienced young people we work with and use that knowledge and information to improve employers’ understanding of some of the accessibility challenges that care experienced people have to the workplace and sustaining a positive life. Networks can fail if they are ill prepared, ill informed and are not nurtured from the start, so we educate the business community we link our care experienced young people in to.

Leicestershire Cares has recently presented at BECOME: All-Party Parliamentary Group for Looked After Children and Care Leavers (APPG) evidence session and National Leaving Care Benchmarking Forum Practitioner Event - 'Beyond Lockdown', speaking about how we have develop care experienced communities and connect care leavers to the business community.

Reconnecting disrupted networks

Zephs café in Oadby has been a great support for care leaver Martin through Covid. Martin used to volunteer at the café before lockdown came into effect, and since then they have kept in touch throughout. Recently we took Martin back to Zephs so he could get back in the swing of things before he starts to volunteer there again. It has been a tough year for a lot of our care experienced young people and we know that throwing them back into the deep end of work could knock their confidence and self belief and set them up to fail. Therefore we are supporting them to re-engage in a way that is tailored to them, so once they are back in the workplace they stay there and thrive.

Read Martin’s journey of the coffee kind.

Mind matters: supporting care experienced young people with their mental wellbeing and reducing isolation

Leicestershire Cares has been running a programme centred on supporting care experienced young people’s mental wellbeing, resilience and reducing isolation by bringing people together, creating social connectiveness and developing peer to peer support.

Care experienced young people often face a lack of security, reliability and stability in their lives due to changing foster carers, social workers, home and school placements, as well as Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) and complications around their birth family. When transitioning to adulthood and independence, care experienced young people can suffer poor mental wellbeing from difficulties to engage in positive activities such as education, employment or training and social groups due to little emotional, financial and personal support resulting in low self-esteem. It is reported that within the first two years of leaving care, one third of care leavers become homeless

We set up a consultation team, made up of care experienced young people, to help us develop and plan the project, and identify workshops and activities that would strengthen their resilience and wellbeing. This took into account the changing restrictions. Using this co-production model gave the care experienced young people the tools and ownership of the solutions that would help improve their wellbeing.

Workshops and activities delivered so far have included wood carving, water sports, online arts and crafts, online cooking, gardening, group dinners, online film nights and quizzes, and selfcare hampers.


Collectiveness, Purpose, Reinvest

  1. The consultation group found that making collative decision made them feel less isolated and part of a team and community trying to make their lives, and others, better.
  2. Having a reason to get up and out of bed was very important.
  3. The young people wanted to try as many new things as they could as they felt they had to ‘make up for lost time’ after lockdown
  4. They want to do something that gives back to their community. The group has plans to raise money for a local cause and going forward, this is something they are currently discussing: a sponsored 24-hour gaming marathon, cake bake, art auction, sponsored walk/run of cycle are some of the ideas so far.

Read more about our Mind Matters Project

Our work with care experienced young people

For more information about our work with care experienced young people, please contact Jacob Brown: