New book written for care leavers … by Oxfordshire care leavers
Care leavers in Oxfordshire now have access to a new source of information to help them navigate the challenges of adulthood, thanks to a book written by those who have experienced the process themselves.
‘A Care Leaver’s Survival Guide’, designed by former children in care from Oxfordshire, is now ready for use by Oxfordshire County Council as a new and valuable resource for young people preparing to leave care.
The interactive and informative book includes practical advice on subjects such as education, writing a CV, preparing for a job interview, paying bills, housing options, and tips around mental wellbeing.
The book is being published by Oxfordshire social enterprise, the Office of Care Leaver Advocacy (OCLA). It will be re-released each year, regularly updated to cover new policies and legislation, in addition to feedback from care leavers.
Councillor John Howson, Oxfordshire County Council’s Cabinet Member for Children, Education and Young People’s Services, said: “Year on year, higher numbers of children and young people come into local authority care with significant complex needs.
“In Oxfordshire we are incredibly lucky, and proud, to be able to partner with Office of Care Leaver Advocacy to provide a wide range of support for the children we care for and care leavers. This innovative partnership is quite unique and allows us to engage and offer support to young people through both professionals and peer role models.”
Chantelle Chamberlin, a director of Office of Care Leaver Advocacy, said: “Like many other children in care, I moved between various foster carers when growing up. When I reached eighteen, I wanted to go to university but the fear of not knowing where I was going to live outside of term time was a barrier.
“I don’t think at the time I had the right awareness and support to access the information that is now available. And even though things have improved, it’s still hard to find relevant guidance when leaving care. You already have so much to think of when you’re 18 and it can be incredibly overwhelming”.
“Young people who have been in care are already forced to grow up quicker than other children and sometimes they aren’t given the right tools to do this successfully. We hope our book will make a big difference.”
Megan MacLeod, also a director of Office of Care Leaver Advocacy, added: “This book is available for anyone across the UK. We hope it will be adopted by other local authorities to provide consistency of information to aid their care leavers. Our team of care leavers worked really hard to ensure it covers all aspects of independence, everything I wish I’d known when I entered the adult world.”
Collaborations between Oxfordshire County Council and OCLA have included consultation on the council’s local offer for care leavers, peer mentoring, a young inspectors programme to help quality assure children’s homes, training for social care staff and joint drop-in sessions to support care leavers with education, employment and training.
Further information on support available to care leavers is available from Oxfordshire County Council’s website.
The book, ‘A Care Leaver’s Survival Guide’, can be ordered from the Office of Care Leaver Advocacy.
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