Local offer for care leavers
Welcome to our new Local Offer for Care Leavers
We know that the past year or so has been unlike anything that any of us could have ever imagined. However, our Care Leavers’ Service is fully open, so please be reassured that we are always here if you need anything. Inevitably, restrictions imposed during the current Covid-19 crisis have meant that some activities in the local offer have had to be put on hold; however as we emerge from lockdown, you will see on the pages below that we are getting back to normal as quickly as we can.
Our local offer for 2021 - 22 has been designed with some of our care leavers so we can be sure that we are giving you information in a way that you understand and that how we support you is right for you. You will find information about:
- where you can live
- what education, training and employment opportunities you will have
- supporting you to be healthy
- encouraging you to be connected with your friends, family and community
- helping you to budget and manage your finances
- what to do if things don’t go to plan
Who can get support through the local offer
You can get support if you have been;
- cared for by Cheshire East for at least 13 weeks between the ages of 14 and 16 (including your 16th birthday)
- cared for by Cheshire East for 13 weeks after your 16th birthday
- are cared for by Cheshire East as an unaccompanied asylum seeking young person and are seeking leave to remain in the UK
- eligible/ relevant/ former relevant/ qualifying
Creating our local offer
On the 12 July 2018 some of our care leavers met with their corporate parents to produce the local offer. People attended from the council, voluntary organisations and major employment firms in Cheshire East. They each wrote a pledge about what they would offer you in the future. Some of these pledges included you being a priority if you were worried about how you were feeling and also being a priority when you needed a home.
Each year, with our care leavers, we will hold an event where we review how we have delivered those pledges and be aspirational for the future, before we update our local offer. The most recent review was held on 17 March 2021 and was attended by Care Leavers, Councillors, local employers and a whole range of organisations who are in a position to offer advice, guidance and practical help.
How we can help
Preparation for adulthood
To prepare you for adulthood we will support you to access independence training from the age of 14. This may include starting the Bronze, Silver, Gold and Platinum Independence packs.
You will also have the opportunity to attend one of the 4 week tenancy readiness courses which run three times per year.
Award Scheme Development and Accreditation Network (ASDAN) courses
You can complete Award Scheme Development and Accreditation Network modules around independence with your foster carers, social workers or personal advisors. After completion of the modules you will obtain an ASDAN certificate. Speak to your personal advisor, social worker or foster carer if you want to start this course.
It is important for you to feel safe, secure and happy in your accommodation. It is also important for you to be central to that decision making. To support this we hold a monthly ‘Ignition Panel’. This is where accommodation providers, the housing team and social landlords come together to explain their accommodation offers. You have the choice of;
- supported lodgings
- self-contained flats
- semi-independent accommodation
- ‘Staying Put’ with current foster carers
- bespoke accommodation packages
The panel can also offer you a trial in a flat and for you then to return to your home to reflect on this experience (this offer is dependent on assessment and availability). This panel and process was nominated for a Children and Young People now award in the category for care-leavers.
Cheshire East Home Choice award you as a care-leaver priority banding for accommodation. This usually means that you are given Band B status when bidding on Cheshire East Home Choice.
Move in package
When you secure your own tenancy you are provided with a basic move in package which can include basic items such as household tools, clothes and cleaning items. We also have an agreement with Engie who work with the Council and will provide six Care Leavers a year with help in moving house or decorating.
A Housing Options Officer is based in the cared for and care leavers service once every fortnight. This worker is able to support our personal Advisors both with homelessness issues and applications for Social Housing.
The Local Authority acting as a guarantor
On some occasions the local authority may act as a guarantor for you. This would involve an assessment and may require you to have completed some Independence packs, attended the tenancy readiness course and/or completed some ASDAN modules.
As a corporate parent we have a duty to engage and improve your relationships and connections with your birth family and support reunification and communication if it is safe to do so. The local offer supports this and family members are either consulted or invited to your pathway plan review at your request. Requests can be made to financially support your transport costs for to visit family members. Social Workers and Personal Advisors will also facilitate and support you with family members who you have not had contact with for a long time and with access to your social care records and files.
Setting up home allowance
When you obtain your own tenancy the local authority will support you with a £2,500 allowance. This will help you furnish and decorate your property.
Health and well-being
We believe that supporting your health will help you achieve in all other areas. This can be in relation to your physical health and importantly your emotional well-being. As a care-leaver you have access to a variety of support. For example, we are currently working with Rage Fitness who offer an 8 week programme of sessions and activities designed to support you with your physical and mental health; speak to your PA if you’d like a place.
To discuss any health issues you could speak to your GP, your Social Worker/Personal Advisor.
Don’t be shy, some Personal Advisors are C-Card trained and can offer you direct support around your sexual health. We work in partnership with Body Positive, where you can also access support.
We work in partnership with Cheshire East Substance Misuse Service to ensure that you are provided will all the information you need to make informed choices about your future. If you need more information contact your personal advisor or the Cheshire East Substance Misuse Service.
To improve your physical health all cared for young people and care-leavers are able to access free gym memberships from Everybody Leisure. The care-leavers service also runs weekly football sessions at Cumberland Arena for you and your friends – speak to your Personal Advisor if you wish to attend.
Health Summary (also known as Passports)
As a care-leaver you should have knowledge of your health history, immunisations and hospital admittances. Should you want this information please request this at your last review health assessment prior to turning 18 years old or from the 16+ cared for and care-leavers nurse.
Care Leavers have a dedicated physiological wellbeing worker provided by Pure Insight through partnership working with Cheshire East Care Leavers Service. The wellbeing worker offers weekly support, including CBT and can allocate fast track trauma counselling from Beacon Counselling - The Evolve Project. Care Leavers will also get fast-tracked referrals to Just Drop-In in Macclesfield who provide support to those who need a bit of help in finding their feet or who are struggling with their emotional health and wellbeing.
The personal advisor team also has a dedicated emotional wellbeing worker, who offers advice and one to one support around improving emotional health and general wellbeing.
We work in partnership with The Motherwell Believe Project which is a specialist service supporting mums with a child, or children, who have been placed into care. They work with mums to help them grow in confidence, feel valued, to be emotionally strong again and improve their resilience.
Speak to your personal advisor if you want more information about the services offered.
Cheshire East Care Leavers Service wants all young people to fulfil their potential and we will do everything to support you in your aspiration and chosen path. We want to encourage you into education, employment or training and will do our utmost to help you along the way. We are doing the following:
- we are working with local employers and organisations such as the Prince’s Trust to maximise the work and training opportunities available to Cheshire East Care Leavers
- the Journey First programme provides intensive 1-2-1 support for young people and adults across Cheshire and Warrington; their dedicated team can help Care Leavers to identify their skills and reach their goals, whether that be support with job searches and employment or access to further education or training
- apprenticeships are a valuable stepping for young people, enabling them to develop real on-the-job skills and acquire a relevant qualification. In many cases, an apprenticeship offers a positive alternative to destinations with a more academic focus. It allows a young person who may not have had the very best of start in life, to acquire a sense of belonging in a place of work where their contributions are valued. They can also forge new relationships with a wider variety and age group of people within work settings; this in turn increases confidence and self-esteem. We have developed an Action Plan for Apprenticeships, speak to your PA for more information
- offer you a mentor who will help with not only education/employment/training but all other aspects of your life – Mentors provided by Pure Insight
- offer you the opportunity to sample jobs in the Local Authority and to visit and spend sometime with the teams
- fund clothing so that you look smart and are well presented for any interviews
- offer a financial incentive for volunteering and training if funding is unavailable elsewhere
- offer a 6 month funded traineeship program for 10 care leavers each year. This is managed by Mploy
- ensure you each have a Curriculum Vitae
- offer and train you in ASDAN courses to improve your skills and train you for future careers
- offer over 150 online courses via our learning lounge. Care-Leavers have their own access and can complete courses from food safety, resilience, organisation skills to Microsoft office courses
- we offer one to one tutoring for young people not enrol at colleges or in the process of returning into mainstream education. This is provided by our virtual school
- access to South Cheshire College’s English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) course at any time of the academic year for unaccompanied asylum seeking children and European Economic Area Nationals
- offer a generous and supportive University Bursary and Allowance for young people completing full time courses
- we will purchase you a bicycle from ‘Re-cycle cycles’ if this is assessed to support your transport and attendance at your school, college, training provider or workplace
Participation in society and the local authority
We want you to feel that your voice is being heard, we want you to have options to engage in developing the local authority and improving the local offer year on year. As your corporate parent we want to know what is working and what is not working. To do all this our local offer includes:
- the offer for you to interview every new Children's Social Worker into the service.
- the opportunity to regularly meet the leaders and elected members of the Council and our senior officers so that you can share your views directly
- the offer to attend any of the young persons benchmarking events.
- access to our Facebook page to not only speak to your worker but to tell us how to improve and engage in any polls and questions we may have
- My Voice (Children in Care Council) meets every Tuesday evening 6-8pm during term time at the Congleton Suite beneath Congleton Library. It is a group for Cared for Children and Care Leavers aged 11-25. My Voice not only works to create better chances for Cared for Children and Care Leavers but also works on campaigns that they are passionate about. My Voice have already been involved with improving services and the recommissioning of Emotionally Healthy Schools
Finances and managing your money
We know that your money matters. It’s hard to manage as a care-leaver on a small budget and we are here to help you. We want to ensure you are able to budget so that you are not left short and can prepare for adulthood. To do this our local offer consists of:
- budgeting support via the tenancy readiness courses, independence packs and ASDAN modules
- incentives to a max of £30 per week if you are not in education, employment or training but are willing to volunteer and make a step towards finding employment or training
- Birthday and Christmas allowances until you turn 21 years old
- financial support until your first Universal Credit payment is in place (max 5 weeks) so that you don’t have to make an advanced payment and be short for the next 6-12 months
- until October 21, £79 per week income maintenance in line with the Covid allowance for Universal Credit
- a joint protocol between Cheshire East Cared for and Care Leavers service and the Department of Work and Pensions so that you can begin your Universal Credit claim early and you have a dedicated worker at your local job centre
- Council Tax Exemption nationwide until your 25th birthday – this ensures you have a little bit more income to get by
- we will purchase your first photographic ID and renewal so you don’t have too and you have the ID required to seek work and open a bank account
- in crisis we can help you speak with the citizens advice bureau, DWP and also offer referrals to your local foodbank
- support you with funding your first 10 driving lessons if you are able to fund the following 10
Your personal advisor
As a Cheshire East care leaver you will be supported by a personal advisor. Our personal advisors are here to support you individually and help you to stay connected with those who are important to you. They are also able to help you to find the right place to live, to be aspirational about further education, training and employment opportunities, be a parent and help you with all other things from where to buy your shopping to finding who can best support you if you are feeling worried.
In 2017 the government made it a requirement of local authorities to support care leavers up until they are 25. Our ambition is to support care leavers until they feel able to be fully independent, knowing that they can come back to us if they need support in the future.
Corporate parents are people who work for the council or people who support the council to deliver services. They work to make sure you are cared for and supported through your transition to adulthood. Find out more about your corporate parents.
Corporate Parenting Strategy
Our Corporate Parenting Strategy 2018 - 2020 (PDF, 2.9MB) outlines all the ways in which you will be cared for and supported through your transition to adulthood.
What if things don’t go to plan
We will be here if things in your life don’t go to plan or you chose to have a change in direction. If you have a personal advisor they will be able to help you and if you don’t you can contact us. Here are the details of how to make contact with the team and also some services who can help you with specific worries or problems, including how to make a compliment or complaint.
- Care Leavers team - 01606 271500
- Complaints team - 01270 686200
- Children's Society - 01925 650127
- Voice for Children - 01270 686946
- Youth Support Service - 01270 686923 or 01625 384320
- Participation team - 01625 384320
- Independent Reviewing Service - 01606 288930