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Care leaversEmployment and training

Bright lights and warm relationships: scaling support for care leavers

A man and woman sit together at a desk, talking whilst having a conversation. The woman makes notes on a computer as they talk.

Catch22 has partnered with Deepr, a social innovation and design studio, to develop a deeper understanding of how care experienced young people access meaningful, sustainable work and training.

We know that care leavers are far less likely to be in education, employment or training (EET) than those in the general population (NSPCC 2021). According to research carried out by the Rees Centre, University of Oxford, leaving care takes a toll on young people’s mental wellbeing, with a higher percentage of care leavers reporting low wellbeing than children in care. And we’ve known for some time that stable housing, wellbeing and other factors support care leavers to achieve good outcomes in education and employment (Wade and Dixon 2006).

We have looked to synthesise some of the most impactful practices we have identified in the Bright Light service delivered by Catch22 and The Children’s Society, as well as those found in other innovative services within the sector, to understand how the impact of these approaches could be scaled across the UK. Bright Light is a partnership pilot project between Catch22 and The Children’s Society, supporting 16-25 year old care-experienced people to find sustainable careers via jobs, apprenticeships and higher education.

Some of the practices highlighted will be very familiar to those working at the frontline and yet, frustratingly, many challenges still remain in mainstreaming them. Our recommendations seek to move this forward. This report:

  • takes stock of some of the most impactful practices in current service provision,
  • identifies blockers for scaling that impact nationally, and
  • makes recommendations for overcoming those blockers.

The findings have been further validated against the evaluation research carried out by NFPSynergy on behalf of Bright Light’s funder, The Clothworkers’ Foundation, for which we are very grateful.

We are keen to share this work more widely, in the hope that it will open up fresh ideas, innovation and unlock impact. Ultimately, we want to know what works, why, and how we can help more care experienced young people across the UK to thrive.

Note: The research and development underpinning the report was developed by Deepr on behalf of Catch22. The report itself has been jointly authored by both organisations and is based mainly on the qualitative research developed from a mixture of 23 depth interviews and four workshops with a range of internal experts at Catch22 and The Children’s Society, 10 care-experienced people, local authorities, employers and external service experts at the Department of Health, Leicestershire Cares and Sheffield Futures.