Extra support for young care leavers

staff and care leaver

A support package – including free gym passes and driving lessons – will be offered to care leavers in Wigan borough.

The scheme aims to help young people adapt to living independently and encourage healthy lifestyle choices.

Wigan Council announced earlier this year care leavers will receive free prescriptions and be exempt from council tax up to the age of 25.

The new package, launched as part of The Deal, will now also offer free internet access, a TV licence for the first 12 months of moving into their first home and access to a laptop to support with their further education.

A gym pass for the young adult and a friend and 10 free driving lessons are also included.

James Winterbottom, Director of Children and Young People’s Services at Wigan Council, said: “The first year of living independently can be difficult for care leavers as they often have to manage lots of new situations at once and at a young age.

“We want to make sure that when they leave care these young adults get off to a good start.”

In addition to the practical benefits, care leavers will also be offered advice and information on subjects including health and contraception, managing finances and training and employment opportunities.

They will be entitled to engage in a bespoke employment support programme including traineeships, pre-apprenticeships and workplace mentors and be supported to find accommodation.

In return, care leavers will be asked to take up the support and advice on offer, actively seek property and work opportunities, respect their property, get involved in their local community, access online council services and take good care of their health and wellbeing.

James Winterbottom added: “The aim of offering this package of support is to encourage them to make good choices, such as keeping themselves healthy and making the most of educational and work opportunities so that they can go on to live well independently.”

Steph Gore, from Ince, is part of the care leavers group that helped develop the support package.

The 21-year-old said: “This will help young people out a lot.

“It was good to be involved in coming up with ideas for it as we all have real experiences of leaving care and know what care leavers will need most.”

The full package of support is listed on Wigan Council’s website, go to www.wigan.gov.uk and search for ‘care leavers’.