Plymouth’s care leavers have met with Labour’s Shadow Minister for Children, making their case for how young people can be better supported after leaving the care system.
Helen Hayes MP spoke with the young people about challenges they have faced since leaving care, in a meeting organised by Luke Pollard MP at Plymouth Care Journeys.
Young people in attendance shared their own stories. The difficulty of finding safe and stable housing after leaving care was a key concern for many of the young care leavers.
In February 2023, Luke brought Plymouth care leavers to London to meet Work and Pensions Secretary and Devon MP, Mel Stride, to campaign for the government to introduce a national rent deposit scheme for care leavers.
Many young people struggle to secure their first private rental property after leaving care because, often, they do not have parents to provide a deposit or act as a rent guarantor.
Helen and Luke also met with Councillor Sally Cresswell, Cabinet Member for Education, to discuss Plymouth City Council’s work to support care-experienced young people.
In June 2023, Plymouth City Council launched new “training flats” to help care-experienced young people to transition into independent living, and young people today praised this initiative as a chance to learn how to live independently after time in care.
This year Luke also launched a paid annual internship scheme for care leavers in his office.
Luke Pollard MP, Member of Parliament for Plymouth Sutton and Devonport, said:
“I’m so proud of these young people for their hard work and campaigning, from meeting the DWP Secretary in London to speaking with a Shadow Minister in Plymouth.
“It’s time we had a government on the side of care leavers. Every young person leaving care should get the help they need to rent somewhere of their own. I’m campaigning for this with Barnardo’s and care leavers in Plymouth, and we won’t stop until we win”.