An event that brought together care leavers, local authorities and academia to discuss the impact of Covid-19 on care leavers’ wellbeing has been described as a ‘step in the right direction for care leavers’.

The event, held jointly with University of Sussex, Creative Research Collective and NIHR Applied Research Collaboration Kent, Surrey and Sussex (ARC KSS), provided an opportunity for care leavers to share their experiences of lockdown, based on the early findings of the Beyond Lockdown study.

The research, carried out by ARC KSS, explored the impact of Covid-19 on care leavers and their support needs as lockdown restrictions ease.

Ten care leavers were at the event, as well as delegates from local authorities, NHS Trusts, universities and the voluntary and community sector.

Step in the right direction

One of the care leavers who gave a presentation described the event as ‘a step in the right direction’ for care leavers across the region.

“The fact that our voice was heard through such an endeavour was outstanding,” they said.

“It was also great for care leavers to hear about the changes and plans set forward by the National Advisor for Care Leavers. But the biggest challenge was trying to get such a range of individuals together, and I feel this was done incredibly well, from health associates and researchers to local authorities. The ability to discuss across a range of people is definitely a step in the right direction for us all.”

Organisations who attended, including all of the Leaving Care Teams within local authorities across Kent, Surrey and Sussex, made pledges on how they would support care leavers during Covid-19. A meeting planned for February 2021 will look at how these pledges have been taken forward.

Key messages for government

Mark Riddell MBE, National Adviser for Care Leavers to the Department for Education, said:

“It was great to be part of the event and hear care leavers tell their story.

“We also heard some fantastic pledges being made across Kent, Surrey and Sussex and I am keen to see where they are in a few months.

“My pledge is to take key messages from today back to the government.”

Find out more

For more information on this work please contact Becca Randell, ARC KSS Starting Well, CYP Mental Health Implementation Lead