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.


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