To celebrate, we headed to our Young Person’s Service in Stoke-on-Trent to speak to the young care leavers that we support.
The service has been supporting young people since 2019. When they come to us, they’ve often experienced lots of change and uncertainty in their lives. At Concrete, we’re here to break that cycle of uncertainty and help them towards their next chapter! Our team offer loads of support, including a safe place to stay, career help, budgeting support and training opportunities.
This year, Become – the charity for children in care and young care leavers – are continuing to call on the government to #EndTheCareCliff. Leaving the care system shouldn’t feel like falling off the edge of a cliff. There should be plenty of support in place to make sure young people can transition to their next chapter.
For Care Leavers Week, we wanted to raise the voices of our young care leavers. We asked them all one question – what would you change about the care system to make it better?
They thought about their own experiences and told us what needs improving for the next generation of care leavers.
Charlie*, 19 said: “One of the biggest faults with the care system is people becoming foster carers for the wrong reasons. There needs to be more of a screening process for new foster carers so you know who is doing it for the right reasons. You should become a foster carer because you genuinely care and want to help someone, not for the money.”
Brooke*, 18, agreed with Charlie. She added: “There should be more people with lived experience working in the care system. There should also be more opportunities for people who have lived experience to break into the sector. A lot of people have said to me ‘I understand’, and I just think, ‘no – you really don’t.’ If someone has that lived experience they can relate to you so much more and really ‘get’ what you’re going through.”
Layla*, 18, said she felt ‘lucky’ to be at our service and wished there were more places like it across the country. She said: “I think there needs to be more places like Concrete’s Young Person’s Service. I do feel really lucky to be here because I know there are hundreds of young people waiting for an opportunity to live somewhere like this. There are people lining up to be here because they’re in horrible situations at home or have nowhere to go after leaving the care system.”
Peter*, 18, was moved around five times before coming to us here at Concrete. He said: “There definitely needs to be more consistency around where you are placed. I was in different cities and it was really difficult to settle. You can’t relax or make any kind of progress because you’re always thinking ‘where am I going next?’ There needs to be more consistency and you need to know that when you’re placed somewhere, that’s where you’ll stay for a long period of time.”
Anna is the Service Manager at our Young Person’s Service. She said that she’s ‘really proud’ of the work that her team does at the scheme.
Anna said: “It’s always so empowering and eye-opening to hear what our young care leavers think about the system. They’ve been through it, not us, so they know first-hand what needs changing to make it better for the next generation.
“We’re really proud of what we do here at Concrete. Our Young Person’s Service is such a unique scheme and there’s such a demand for it, not only in Staffordshire, but across the whole country. We know that if we doubled or even tripled our facilities, we’d fill them straightaway.
“Being a teenager and then a young adult is tough enough. When you add the uncertainty and difficult times that our young people have already faced, it’s even harder. At our Young Person’s Service we work hard every day to make a difference to young care leavers. We want them to feel excited and ready for a brand-new chapter, where they can achieve anything they want to.”
*names have been changed.