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Keep Care Leavers Connected

Campaigning for extended provision of digital devices and internet access for care leavers when living independently for the first time.

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Our approach

There are 80,000 18-25 year old care leavers in England – and fears are growing that many remain without internet access, leaving them unable to access education, training, work and to keep in touch with friends, family and professionals.

The lockdown period shone a light on the predicament that care leavers have always faced – that most of them are not digitally connected as they cannot afford to pay for Wi-Fi or limited data.

In 2020, together with more than 35 charities and youth organisations, Catch22 wrote an open letter to MPs, calling for extended provision of digital devices and internet for care leavers, to enable them to thrive when living independently for the first time, and to reduce the impact that digital poverty can have on their futures.

A teenage girl sits at the dining table reading messages or browsing the internet on her phone.

Running a home, having a career, a social life and everything in between has become almost dependent on having this connection and types of devices. That is the reason for the campaign: we want care leavers to have the same chances and success as those who were not in care. Is that too much to ask?

Luke Fox, Chair of the Care Leavers National Movement

Frequently asked questions

How can I read the open letter in full?

Gavin Williamson MP, Parliamentary Secretary of State for Education
Vicky Ford MP, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Children and Families
Nadhim Zahawi MP, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Business and Industry

We are calling on government to: 

  • Extend and improve uptake of the government scheme that provides digital devices and internet for all care leavers
  • Ensure every care leaver in England has a digital device and internet access for at least 12 months when they first live independently
  • Recommend that all local offers for care leavers include the right to a digital device and internet access
  • Call to ensure care leavers are digitally connected

The world revolves around being digitally connected. Having access to a device and being connected to the internet are essentials that our society cannot live without.

Care leavers are a part of our society – and the COVID-19 pandemic has shone a light on the digital exclusion that many care leavers in England are experiencing. There are still many care leavers who are not digitally connected.

The Government’s scheme to provide digital devices and internet access to vulnerable children in England at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic provided a lifeline to many care leavers.

Those previously without devices or connectivity had the opportunity to access online learning, apply for jobs and attend interviews, and connect with friends and family. These are things that the majority of people rightly take for granted.

But government has stopped issuing laptops, and the internet access is set to end in November 2020.

We also know that many care leavers were unable to access the devices – or secure an internet connection to go with them. In a survey of local authorities, covering more than 6000 care leavers between them, 40% said that none of the care leavers they worked with had received a laptop or tablet as part of the Government-funded scheme. This was due to a variety of issues, including IT problems, distribution delays and confusion over eligibility criteria.

Being connected to the internet is vital for the c. 80,000 care leavers in England aged 18-25. Not only does it mean they can continue studies or employment at home and in the absence of face to face learning, but it allows them to connect with their peers. Without a computer and internet access, care leavers who already face considerable challenges feel more isolated and are further disadvantaged.

  • As a first step, we want to see the government extend the existing scheme and commit to making sure care leavers can access it easily. That means clear guidance, fast delivery and appropriate training for users.
  • We also want to ensure every care leaver in England has a laptop and internet access for at least 12 months when they first live independently.
  • And, we want to see government guidance setting out that all local offers for care leavers include the right to a device and internet access.

Having reliable internet access makes a huge difference to those care leavers who have been able to take advantage. Taking it away would not only be a backwards step, but would have a potentially damaging effect on these young care leavers’ ability to learn, communicate and work effectively. It would plunge many into digital poverty.

Devices and internet access are crucial to minimise disadvantage and maximise opportunity. Digital access should be a right, not a luxury.

Who signed this open letter?

Our open letter was signed by:

Signed by: Catch22, National House Project, Esmée Fairbairn, Care Leaver Covenant, The Children’s Society, Barnardo’s, Become, British Youth Council, Carefree Fostering Independence Cornwall, Care Leavers National Movement, Children England, Children’s Rights Alliance England. Community Action for Refugees and Asylum Seekers, Coram Voice, Digital Access for All, Drive Forward Foundation, Family Action, Family Rights Group, The Fostering Network, Greater Manchester Immigration Aid Unit, Greater Manchester Youth Network, The Independent Children’s Homes Association, Just for Kids Law, Learning Foundation, Leap Confronting Conflict, Leicestershire Cares, Lighthouse, National Network for the Education of Care Leavers, Partnership Young London, Plus One Programme: Derby Theatre, Pure Insight, Sea Cadets, Social Mobility Commission, St Christopher’s Fellowship, Together Trust, WhiteHat, Young Minds, Youth Leads and Youth Work Unit.

What progress has been made against these goals so far?

Building on these successes, we’re continuing to pursue our longer-term goals outlined in the open letter to Ministers, including to ensure every care leaver in England has a digital device and internet access for at least 12 months when they first live independently.

Contact Keep Care Leavers Connected

Headshot of Melissa Milner

Melissa Milner

Director of External Affairs and Partnerships

We’re continuing to pursue our longer-term goals, including to ensure every care leaver in England has a digital device and internet access for at least 12 months when they first live independently.

For further information, please reach out using our contact form, and a member of the team will get back to you as soon as possible.

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Privacy notice

How we manage your data

Catch22 Charity Ltd. manages the data you provide in accordance with the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

  • The Data Controller (the organisation that determines how your data is managed) is Catch22Contact us if you have a query about how your data is managed.
  • The Data Processor (the organisation that does data processing on behalf of Catch22) is Totally.Tech.
  • We are committed to giving you (the Data Subject in legal terms) an easy way to exercise your eight rights under the GDPR.
  • We retain your data for as long as you allow us to do so. You can exercise your right to erasure at any time however, there may be some instances where we need to retain your information for a longer duration for legal reasons, such as when applying for a job with Catch22.

What information do we collect?

Catch22 may collect, store and use the following kinds of personal data:

  • information about your computer and your visits to and use of this website, including your IP address, geographical location, browser type, referral source, length of visit and number of page views (cookies),
  • information that you provide to us for the purpose of applying for a job or receiving job alerts (job applications / job alerts),
  • subscribing to email newsletters including your name and email address (email newsletter), or
  • information that you submit that relates to a complaint, service feedback or enquiry (complaints / feedback and enquiries).

Specific detail of each processing activity is provided below.


Cookies are text files that are stored on your web browser by a website’s server. Each cookie is unique to your browser, and will contain some anonymous information such as a unique identifier and the website domain name. This information is sent back to the server each time your browser requests a page from it. This enables the website server to identify and track your web browser via your unique, anonymous, identifier.

Catch22 only uses cookies on its website where they will support the functioning of its website and to improve the experience of its website visitors. These cookies may be created by Catch22’s website, or by third-party services that Catch22 uses, to enable its website to be run effectively.

Some, ‘necessary’ cookies are essential to the running of our website and are exempt from the requirement of consent as per the GDPR and PECR. Functional, analytical and advertising cookies are all optional, and we will only store these cookies on your browser where we have received your freely-given, specific, informed, and unambiguous consent.

Any information that is collected by Catch22 via cookies is processed in a way which does not, and cannot, identify an individual person. We do not make any attempt to find out the identities of those visiting the Catch22 website.

You can find out more about Catch22’s use of cookies, and how to opt-out of or delete cookies from your browser via our Cookies Statement.

Job applications

If you apply for a job with Catch22 using our hosted online job application system, this service will be provided by a data processor on our behalf (SmartRecruiters).

To process your application, we ask for your personal details including name and contact details. We will ask you about your previous experience, education, referees and for answers to questions relevant to the role you have applied for. The hiring managers for the role, along with our Recruitment and HR teams will have access to all of this information.

Catch22 processes your job application data for the purpose of its legitimate interest to process your HR information.

  • If you are successful, the information you provide during the application process will be retained by us as part of your employee file for the duration of your employment plus six years following the end of your employment.
  • If you are unsuccessful at any stage of the process, the information you have provided until that point will be retained for six months from the closure of the campaign.
  • Equal opportunities information is retained for six months following the closure of the campaign whether you are successful or not.

For more information, please see the SmartRecruiters privacy notice.

Job alerts

Through the SmartRecruiters job application system, it is also possible to sign up for job alerts, which will let you know when new jobs that meet your criteria have been posted.

These alerts are managed by the data processor (SmartRecruiters) on our behalf, and will only be processed using your freely-given, specific, informed and unambiguous consent.

If at any point you wish to unsubscribe from SmartRecruiters job alerts, this can be done by clicking the unsubscribe link on the latest email. You can also log into your SmartRecruiters candidate profile to modify or withdraw your details.

For more information, please see the SmartRecruiters privacy notice.

Email newsletter

If you subscribe to Catch22’s newsletter and/or event mailing lists, you will receive regular communications relating to our work. These mailings will be facilitated by a third-party provider, such as Mailchimp or Salesforce (marketing platforms), and your data will be processed by a third-party client relationship management platform, Salesforce.

Catch22 will only process your contact details and send you newsletters following your freely-given, specific, informed and unambiguous consent.

You have the right to unsubscribe from any of our email mailing lists at any time. If you wish to unsubscribe from a Catch22 mailing list please click the unsubscribe link on the latest email or contact dpo@catch-22.org.uk to ensure that you do not continue to receive email newsletters from us. We will need to continue to hold your details after you have unsubscribed to ensure that we do not send you further communications.

For more information, please see the Mailchimp or Salesforce privacy notices as appropriate.

Feedback and enquiries

Catch22 processes the data submitted through any of our website contact forms for the purpose of receiving your message and responding to it under the lawful basis of consent, which you give when submitting the form.

We will only use the information supplied to us to deal with the enquiry and any subsequent issues, and to check on the level of service we provide.

These contact forms are processed using the WordPress plugin, Gravity Forms. When these forms are submitted to us, notification emails are automatically generated to send your enquiry to the appropriate team within Catch22 who will store your email for as long as is required to deal with your enquiry and any subsequent issues.

Form submissions are also stored within the Catch22 WordPress database for a period of 90 days. This allows us to identify if there are any issues with forms being received by our teams. After this time, forms and all accompanying personal data are automatically deleted from the system. Gravity Forms does not receive copies of any of forms, or any accompanying personal data, that are submitted via the Catch22 website.

You have the right to withdraw consent for us to contact you at any time by contacting dpo@catch-22.org.uk. You also have the right to lodge a complaint with a supervisory authority, which in the United Kingdom is the Information Commissioner’s Office.

For more information, please see the Gravity Forms privacy notice.


Complaints can be submitted using our online feedback form, by emailing feedback@catch-22.org.uk, or by post. Catch22 undertakes the processing of your complaints data as part of its legitimate interests.

When we receive a complaint from a person we make up a file containing the details of the complaint. This normally contains the identity of the complainant and any other individuals involved in the complaint.

We will only use the personal information we collect to process the complaint and to check on the level of service we provide.

We usually have to disclose the complainant’s identity to whoever the complaint is about. This is inevitable where, for example, the accuracy of a person’s record is in dispute. If a complainant doesn’t want information identifying him or her to be disclosed, we will try to respect that. However, it may not be possible to handle a complaint on an anonymous basis.

We will keep personal information contained in complaint files in line with our retention policy. This means that information relating to a complaint will be retained for six years from closure. It will be retained in a secure environment and access to it will be restricted according to the ‘data minimisation’ principle.

For more information, please see the Complaints, Compliments and Feedback policy.

Use of data processors

The Data Processor (the organisation that does data processing on behalf of Catch22) is Totally.Tech.

Catch22 also works with third-party data processors to provide our:

  • content management system (WordPress),
  • website analytics (Google Analytics),
  • marketing platform (Mailchimp),
  • client relationship management platform (Salesforce),
  • social media advertising campaigns (Meta Pixel, Twitter Pixel, LinkedIn Insight Tag, TikTok Pixel), and
  • recruitment service (SmartRecruiters).

We have contracts in place with our data processors. This means that they cannot do anything with your personal information unless we have instructed them to do it. They will not share your personal information with any organisation apart from us. They will hold it and retain it for the period we instruct.

Individual Catch22 services may work with additional third-party data processors in line with their contractual requirements. For more information, please see the relevant Service Privacy Notice, which can be downloaded from their service page on this website, or found by searching for the service by name in our Policy Library.


Catch22 may disclose information about you to any of our employees, officers, agents, suppliers or data processors insofar as reasonably necessary for the purposes as set out in this privacy notice.

In addition, we may disclose information about you:

  • to the extent that we are required to do so by law,
  • in connection with any legal proceedings or prospective legal proceedings, or
  • in order to establish, exercise or defend our legal rights (including providing information to others for the purposes of fraud prevention and reducing credit risk).

Except as provided in this privacy notice, Catch22 will not provide your information to third parties without your consent.

Security of your personal data

Catch22 will take reasonable technical and organisational precautions to prevent the loss, misuse or alteration of your personal information.

We will store all the personal information you provide on our secure, encrypted password and firewall protected servers. As data transmission over the internet is inherently insecure, we cannot guarantee the security of data sent over the internet.

Where information is held on our behalf by data processors, we will ensure, to the best of our ability, that they hold your information securely and in line with data protection legislation. We hold contracts with all data processors to make sure that they cannot do anything with your data unless we have instructed them to do so.

Notice amendments

We may update this privacy notice from time-to-time. Check this page occasionally to ensure you are happy with any changes.

Your rights

Please contact the Data Protection Officer if you have any queries regarding this Privacy Notice or if you would like to exercise or query any of the following rights afforded to you under the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR):

  • right to access
  • right to erasure
  • right to object
  • right to rectification
  • right to be informed
  • right to restrict processing
  • right to data portability
  • rights in relation to automated decision making and profiling
  • right to lodge a complaint with the Information Commissioners Office (ICO) – via the Complaints page on the ICO website or by calling 0303 123 1113

For further information on your rights, please visit the Individual Rights page on the ICO website.


If you have any questions about this privacy notice or of our treatment of your personal data, please email dpo@catch-22.org.uk or write to:

Data Protection Officer

27 Pear Tree Street

Data controller

Catch22’s data protection registration number is Z1473239