John Lewis finds young people leaving care system are at risk of being left out in the cold
New research from the John Lewis Partnership for National Care Leavers Week has suggested that record numbers of young people in the UK are expected to live at home for longer.
However, the partnership has highlighted how young people in care do not have the same luxury as it looks to become the employer of choice for those leaving the system.
As a result, the owner of John Lewis and Waitrose is launching its Building Happier Futures programme to help young care leavers find their feet through meaningful jobs.
The research shows that some 40% of young people polled said leaving home was the most defining aspect of feeling like an adult, but a quarter said they are currently not intending to do so until well into their thirties. Furthermore, one in 10 even suggested that the move could be delayed until their forties.
In addition, 51% admitted that they have turned to their parents during tougher times and over a third are relying on the safety net of their parents and families to help make ends meet.
The John Lewis Partnership said young people who have been through the care system have no such thing as a safety net and that many are more likely to become homeless than go to university.
Sharon White, chairman of the John Lewis Partnership, said: “The way the current social care system works in the UK, the moment a young person turns 18, they’re more often than not on their own. One day considered a child in care, the next expected to fend for themselves, find a place to live, get a job and start paying bills.
“We need to provide more support and create more opportunities for young people from care backgrounds. This is why we’re launching our Building Happier Futures employment programme to ensure the thousands of young people who leave the care system are no longer overlooked both in the national conversation as well as by education bodies and employers.”
The research shows that the average age that most people first feel like an adult is 25 and, for many, this coincides with big life moments such as getting a mortgage, getting married or having a first child. This is in stark contrast to young care leavers who are effectively thrust into adulthood at 18.
The Building Happier Futures’ employment programme will see the partnership employing more care experienced people in more parts of the country. This could also include launching dedicated apprenticeships for care leavers and the offer of financial support to pursue further or higher education.
White added: “Young care leavers face profound injustices that no teenager should ever face. In time, we aspire to offer mentorship through dedicated apprenticeships, providing financial support for young people who have been in care to pursue further or higher education and by supporting our charity partners in their fundraising efforts.
“Our ambition is to give more opportunities to young people from care in the partnership, but we can’t do it alone. To have the biggest impact possible, it’s critical that other businesses get involved. Some of our best and brightest national talent are care experienced so I urge any employer that can, to join us to ensure that our care experienced young people are given the opportunities they deserve.”
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