South Gloucestershire gives Care Leavers a festive boost over the holidays

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Council staff, councillors and local businesses in South Gloucestershire have been donating their time and support into making Christmas special for Care Leavers.

Young people who have been in care, for whom the council has been their Corporate Parent, and who may otherwise have been alone over the holidays, received gifts and a festive meal for Christmas day.

Young people aged 18-21 who may have faced a lonely time over the holidays, were identified by their Personal Advisors, known as PA’s. PA’s are employed to offer personal support and advice to a young person leaving care. They help young people to achieve their goals and make sure they are ready to live independently.

A number of generous local companies and their suppliers have kindly donated gifts for a Christmas stocking, which were packed by council staff and councillors who volunteered their time and also made donations.

South Gloucestershire Council Cabinet Member for Children and Young People, Councillor Maggie Tyrrell, joined staff and colleagues who came together to wrap the gifts. She said: “I am really proud of the people who are moving out of care and moving into South Gloucestershire communities, getting themselves into jobs or training and taking their next steps. To see them thriving is a real joy.

“As a council we do our best to help make their Christmas really special. For many care leavers, Christmas might be a lonely time, so we provide them with presents and food, a party and lots of things to help them get through this season and feel good about themselves.

“It is really important that our care leavers feel valued and appreciated by the council as their Corporate Parent. We are committed to making sure that they do all year round, but I am delighted that so many of our staff and fellow councillors have contributed to making sure that all our young people can enjoy Christmas.”

Care leavers receive a range of extra support over the holiday period, including:

• A special Christmas party with food and games
• A Christmas dinner, delivered to the homes of those who aren’t able to be with family or foster carers for example, which they can re-heat for Christmas Day
• All care leavers have been given an advent calendar, including some donated by a local businesses
• Handmade Christmas cards have also been given to all South Gloucestershire care leavers.

A video of Councillor Tyrrell, Care Leavers’ project manager, Danielle Winter, and other council staff at the recent gift-wrapping session, talking about why supporting local care leavers this Christmas is so important to them is available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sDULfy5-5fo

A Care Leaver is a young person (aged between 16 and 18) who has previously been in care but is no longer legally ‘looked after’ by the local authority’s children’s services. While a child is in care, the council is their Corporate Parent.

The council provide young people leaving care with support until they are aged 25. They are offered a package of support, including help finding somewhere to live, managing their finances, support to continue their education and being involved in any decisions made about them.

The council takes its responsibility as Corporate Parent seriously. Children and young people in and leaving the care system often face considerable challenges. They are amongst the most vulnerable groups in our community and need the council, as their Corporate Parent, to make sure they get access to the same opportunities as any other young person.