Blog by Jill Varndell of Portsmouth City Council - their involvement in the New Belongings project

Portsmouth City Council and partners have a strong commitment to improving outcomes for ‘looked after’ children and care leavers.  For a number of years, the City has had a multi-agency corporate parenting board (chaired by the leader of the City Council)

In Portsmouth, at any one time we have around 300 children in care. Each year around 30 young people leave care.  We are currently supporting 93 care leavers.

We know, however, that there is still more to do and in particular we want to do more for, and better by, our care leavers. Our starting point for this renewed and revitalised energy around care leavers was the agreement in the Spring of 2013 for the local corporate parenting board to sign up to the Charter for Care Leavers.  This is why we wanted to be involved in the New Belonging initiative in Portsmouth.  We have our local launch on the 18 October and have invited members of the corporate parenting board and the public services board.  We will be joined by key people from the Care Leaver's Foundation and project group of the New Belongings project.

In terms of outcomes regarding our involvement in the New Belongings project, we want to see improvements in:

  • Take-up of education and employment opportunities.  
  • Progression through, and beyond, further education.  
  • Accommodation options and support for young people with more complex support needs.
  • Care leavers moving up the agenda across other council departments and in particular with partner agencies. 
  • Stronger engagement with voluntary and private sector partners in the City, to offer more apprenticeship opportunities for care leavers. 
  • Greater consistency in the local authority’s and partners' offer to care leavers.  
  • Stronger engagement of the communities that care leavers live in.  
  • External challenge from the national expertise of the Care Leavers Foundation.

We are currently facilitating our survey of care leavers by care leavers. The survey will be asking care leavers the following questions: 

  • What were the three best things about leaving care?
  • The three worst things about leaving care? 
  • Three ways in which you could have been better prepared for independence?
  • What advice would you give to a fellow care leaver?
  • Three things you would like to change right now for yourself on leaving care/having left care? 
  • Three things all local authorities should change? 
  •  Is there anything else you would like to say?

The findings of the survey will form the basis of our work plan for the New Belongings project for the next year.

Blog by Susanna Cheal – The Launch of New Belongings

Energy, enthusiasm and commitment were palpable in The Department for Education on Monday 

2 September when an impressive group of care leavers came together with nine pilot local 

authorities to launch the New Belongings project, inspired by care leavers themselves with the 

support of The Care Leavers' Foundation. 

The project is working with nine local authorities in England to drive up standards in support for 

care leavers. In particular they will engage their own communities in extended corporate parenting 

- to make sure that care leavers feel the benefit of integrated and longer lasting wrap around care.

The nine pilot authorities came together for the first time at the 2 September launch. Planning for 

the event has been going on for the past few weeks, and it was rewarding for care leavers and the project team to see it all come together on the day. It was an inspiring event with a real buzz and commitment from everyone to the hard work to come. 

Scott King, chair of the group of care leavers who are advising ministers showed his video ‘We 

Are Paper to demonstrate why improvements are so necessary, and for a caring attitude and 


Kyle Simmons highlighted the need for a consistent approach across entitlements, rights and 

appropriate professional support.  

The Children’s Minister, Edward Timpson MP, sent a message of support for the launch of New 

Belongings, which the DfE has funded, to take commitment to improving leaving care services in 

local authorities to the next level. Its great to have such solid support and confidence in the project at such a high level.

Liz Lyden, chair of the New Belongings project group and trustee of The Care Leavers' Foundation 

reflected the optimism of the care leavers and the project team, in setting off at a pace to bring 

about change.

The project will get behind the paperwork and focus on the reality of local care 

leavers' experiences, involving them in creating cultural change at local level. 

We have just over one year to proceed on this journey with our partners, and begin to make the 

difference we would like to see.  

I feel very positive about the approach the project is taking and core to that is the outstanding commitment of older care leavers who want to make care services so much better now. Research has shown that care leavers have asked for the same improvements for 30 years. With all the legislation and policy in place there is nothing to stop the creation of excellent consistent services if we all work in partnership with a positive 'can do' attitude and refuse to settle for second best. 

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