Young people leaving care in Dorset have been helped to build happy and successful lives.
Dorset Council is one of eight local authorities to have taken part in a three-year pilot scheme which according to a new report has made a difference to the lives of the participants.
Led by children’s rights organisation, Coram Voice, the New Belongings project worked with the local authorities and their care leavers to understand the young people’s experiences and to look at how their lives could be made better by listening to what is important to them and what they need.
Cllr Andrew Parry, Dorset Council’s portfolio holder for Children, Education, Skills and Early Help, said: “I’d like to start by saying a huge thank you to those young care leavers who have shared their views and experiences with us. We know that talking to and understanding the needs of our care leavers is vitally important and being part of this project has taught us lots.
“Young care leavers from Dorset have been instrumental in helping us shape the support that we offer our care leavers, for example, we’re working together with local landlords to support young people leaving care to enable them to move into a safe, secure home of their own. This is something that is really important to care leavers, so we’re doing all we can to make this a reality.”
Despite the challenges of working with the young people during the covid pandemic, Dorset Council heard from more than 250 of its care leavers in two surveys about how life was going. The local authority and its partners then worked alongside young people to make improvements.
Linda Briheim-Crookall, head of Policy and Practice Development at Coram Voice, said: “We were delighted to work alongside Dorset Council in the New Belongings programme. They showed a great commitment to listening to their care leavers about what was important to them and to take action together with young people to make things better. Across England we need to shift the focus of children’s social care to put young people’s wellbeing at the centre. Dorset Council is in a great position to carry on this important work.”
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