Created by eight young care leavers, who all write, present and edit the show together, Take a Break with Break, aims to raise awareness of what it’s like being in care with each episode focusing on a different topic. The first talks about the common misconceptions that surrounds those with care experience, with the next looking at gender identity and what it can be like coming out in while in care.
“We want to show people that we are all capable and not just the ‘care kids’ with no future,” explains Mari-Ann, one of the young people involved in the project. “We have dreams and career goals that we want to make happen, and we are able to live independently. It’s just that for some the support isn’t always there which can make it much harder when you leave care, but that doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t be given the same opportunities as others who haven’t been in care. Through Break, we’ve been lucky to have that lifelong commitment from the charity and we know that there will always be someone to help us. It’s just like having a family and more care leavers need that kind of support.”
Around 45,000 young people left the care system in England in 2021 but leavers aged between 19-21 are four times more likely to find themselves not in employment, education or training than young adults who haven’t experienced care - this can lead to homelessness and high rates of loneliness and depression.
However, services such as Break’s Staying Close, Staying Connected, an innovative project launched in 2018 to help young adults make the transition to independent living, is aiming to combat these issues. It’s one of eight Staying Close projects across the UK, funded by the Department for Education Innovation Programme, and provides care leavers with housing and a transition worker giving practical and emotional support, helping them to gain confidence and independence.
“Our young people are at the heart of what we do. I know how talented they are and our role is to ensure they have the opportunities to shine, and this podcast is just one example,” comments Break CEO Rachel Cowdry. “They are capable of so much and it’s wonderful to hear them talking about their experience in this way, while gaining new skills by writing, editing, and producing the content. Adult life is not easy for care leavers and all too often many experience that cliff edge, finding it difficult to navigate the complexities of living independently. Staying Close and our life long offer bridges that gap, enabling us to give them a helping hand towards a brighter future, safe in the knowledge that we will always be there for them.”
National Care Leavers week takes place between 24 – 28 October 2022 and celebrates care leavers across the UK. This year the topic is #EndTheCareCliff with organisations being asked to share the experiences of young care leavers and asking them what needs to change to make the system better.
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