Lend us your support, ask Care Leavers

Published: 22 Oct 2018

Care leavers in Hertfordshire are launching a campaign asking local businesses to pledge support to help them achieve.

Timed to coincide with Care Leavers Week (24-31 October), Project Positive aims to challenge employers’ possible unconscious bias against those who have been in care, especially in connection with job applications.

They are asking employers to reflect on how they might support care leavers into the work place and to take a pledge to give these applicants a fair chance to prove themselves as individuals.

In Hertfordshire there are currently more than 500 care leavers aged 18-21, many of whom are looking for work. They report that they feel ‘judged’ by prospective employees when their background comes to light during job applications – referee job titles and ages, several moves of address and  non-parental emergency contact details can all prompt questions during interview.

Examples of pledges companies are asked to make include: We pledge to speak positively about care leavers when given the opportunity; we pledge to not stereotype care leavers if they apply for a job; we pledge to encourage care leavers to be ambitious; and we pledge to recognise their potential.

Former care leaver Jennifer, now 26, said: "Employers need to be aware of the prejudices surrounding care leavers and focus more on recognising the potential. Like other young people starting off in their careers, care leavers also deserve to be encouraged and trained in the world of employment.

“Care leavers lack the support and encouragement they would have otherwise received from home/families and this is why employers should ensure they are actively motivating those that are disadvantaged."

Teresa Heritage, Cabinet Member for Children, Young People and Families, said: “This is a bold move by our care leavers to tell their story rather than be typecast. We have many success stories for care leavers in Hertfordshire who embark upon further education and training as well as employment - examples which fly in the face of stereotypes.

“As part of their life experiences these young people have developed skills which are useful in the workplace, such as coping with change and managing relationships with professionals. I urge every business to see how they can offer their support to our care leavers by taking a pledge.”

If you are able to offer work experience to a care leaver, or have vacancies or apprenticeships that might be suitable please contact YC Hertfordshire on 01438 845039.

For further information www.hertfordshire.gov.uk/projectpositive