Young people who have left local authority care in North Yorkshire are to be given goody bags to help to keep them safe and well during the Covid-19 pandemic.
North Yorkshire has more than 300 care leavers living in and around the county. These are young people who left local authority care after they became 16 and who often had difficult lives before coming into care. North Yorkshire County Council is committed to supporting them during the lockdown.
The cost of the goody bags has been met by contributions from their locality budgets by county councillors in their role as corporate parents, led by children’s champion Cllr Annabel Wilkinson.
The bags have been put together by the County Council’s leaving care team, include a voucher to spend at a local supermarket and sweet treats, as well as information on activities to help the young people to stay well. Councillors were also keen to ensure these young people were given hand sanitiser and gloves to protect themselves, supporting them in the way many parents have for their children not living at home.
The goody bags follow on from Christmas dinners that saw young people, staff and councillors share a meal at several events last year and, more recently, Easter eggs donated to care leavers.
Cllr Janet Sanderson, Executive Member for Children’s Services, said: “We always take an active role in the wellbeing of young people who have left our care, so at this difficult time we wanted to do a little bit extra to let them know that we are thinking of them.”
Cllr Wilkinson said: “We are unable to meet and all be together. However, we can be together in spirit. The goody packs will bring comfort and happiness to our young people.”
During the pandemic, the leaving care team has worked tirelessly with care leavers, using digital methods to keep in touch. The team’s workers are used to working remotely and using the latest technology to engage the young people, so were well placed to continue their support during lockdown.
The team’s Facebook page has become a source of support and advice and is regularly updated by two apprentices on the team, who are also care leavers.
Care leavers have recently received laptops to help those who weren’t able to access online college work and to help particularly vulnerable young people to keep in touch and access support.