Council is making “care experience” a protected characteristic and is updating its Local Offer to care leavers
At the cabinet meeting on Thursday, 16 March, the council agreed to make “care experience” a “protected characteristic” in Telford and Wrekin for children and adults who have been in care.
The cabinet also approved an updated “Local Offer to Care Leavers”, with additional support and services to be available for borough care leavers.
Following the cabinet’s approval, “care experienced” will be added as an additional characteristic in Telford and Wrekin and given the same protection as other protected characteristics under the Equality Act (2010), such as age, disability, race, religion and others.
Telford & Wrekin Council becomes as such the first in the West Midlands and the first “Outstanding” Ofsted-rated council for Children’s Services in the country to declare care experienced people as a group who face discrimination and to give them protected status.
The move strengthens even further the strong support offer for care leavers already in place as part of the council’s “Local Offer to Care Leavers”.
Furthermore, as part of the updated local offer, care leavers will benefit from additional support from the council, with purchasing laptops and mobile phones, free driving lessons, discounts and savings at major retailers and supermarkets and many others.
Councillor Shirley Reynolds (Lab), Cabinet Member for Children, Young People and Families said:
“Care experienced people often face discrimination and stigma across housing, health, education and many other areas. We do not want this to happen in Telford in Wrekin - here we can make a difference!
“As corporate parents, we are responsible for providing the best possible care for all children and young people looked after by our authority.
“We have already made important steps, including having a strong “Local Offer to Care Leavers” in place. However, as an “Outstanding” Ofsted-rated council for Children’s Services, we will always strive to do more.
“We are now making “care experience” a protected characteristic, which means council services and polices will be updated to give special considerations to residents who have experienced care. We will also encourage local organisations across the borough to do more to support care-experienced people, including by adopting the “corporate parenting principle”.
“Through our newly updated “Local Offer to Care Leavers”, additional support and services will be available for borough care leavers.
“By providing all this support, we are firmly committed to help care experienced young people to build a prosperous, healthy and happy future. We will continue to be on their side.”
Care Leaver Champion and campaigner, Terry Galloway welcomed Telford & Wrekin Council’s decision to make care experience a protected characteristic as well as the additional support the council provides to care leavers through its updated “Local Offer to Care Leavers”.
Terry said: “I am delighted that Telford and Wrekin council have passed Protected Characteristics for care experienced people.
“This will mean so much for so many care leavers. The council’s policies will look to support them with looking for work, moving into their first home and other key areas so they can build a stable future. It is what you would want for your own children!
“I’m genuinely looking forward to working with the council on all these measures supporting our care experienced people.
"One of the first things I’ve requested to do is to meet up with the council to discuss their ongoing project to ensure accommodation is not a barrier to care leavers and to explore other opportunities focusing on sufficiency, such as encouraging developers to contribute towards their local community when they are developing in the borough.
"By working together, we can get the change we need!"
To find out more about the council’s support for children and young people in care and care leavers, visit the council’s website
You can view the full cabinet report on “Protected Characteristic for Care Leavers and Local Offer” on the council’s Cabinet Meetings webpage.
Note: Photo taken at the Full Council meeting on 2 March 2023 (left to right): Councillor Shirley Reynolds (Cabinet Member for Children, Young People and Families), Councillor Arnold England (deputy mayor of Telford and Wrekin), Terry Galloway (Care Leaver Champion and campaigner) and Jo Britton (Telford & Wrekin Council's Executive Director - Children's Services)