Case StudyCare Leaver Covenant and the Voluntary Sector
How we’ve come to collaborate with leading care leaver charities and other voluntary organisations across the country.
Organisations that sign up to the Covenant make ‘offers’ of support relating to education, employment, training, housing, security, health, financial stability and more. Over 200 organisations, from a range of sectors including hospitality, broadcasting and retail, have signed up to the Covenant and over 130 organisations have published offers on the Covenant app and website.
Collaboration with the voluntary sector was always going to be a crucial to the success of the Covenant due to the invaluable relationships that many charities across the country have with care leavers, local businesses and local government. These established relationships enable the Covenant to reach the young people that will benefit from the opportunities on offer and to develop new partnerships that will lead to further opportunities through the charities’ own networks. Although it is generally only the larger charities who can offer employment opportunities within their staff teams, charities of all sizes contribute to the success of the Covenant through these relationships and connections.
When an opportunity has been created the Covenant reaches out to charities as well as local authorities, colleges and Job Centres in order to identify the young people who may be interested. The frontline relationships that charities have with care leavers though hours of work from mentors, advisors and job coaches enables them to link the young people they are already supporting with the opportunities on offer. Without the crucial personal connections and supportive relationships these advisors and coaches provide, many care leavers wouldn’t have the confidence or information they need to take up Covenant opportunities.
The Covenant works closely with these organisations, such as the Drive Forward Foundation and Depaul, not only to refer care leavers to live opportunities but also to gather feedback about the types of opportunities the young people are looking for. This feedback helps to inform the Covenant’s partnership-building work, ensuring that the opportunities created cater for the diverse range of needs and aspirations that care leavers have. These relationships also enable the Covenant to create bespoke opportunities for a charity’s cohort where there is a shared interest or need within a group of care leavers.
Drive Forward Foundation
Drive Forward Foundation are one of the Covenant’s major referral partners in London. Nicholl Hardwick, one of the Employment Consultants from Drive Forward says:
‘The Care Leaver Covenant have supplied Drive Forward’s young people with employment opportunities and are regularly getting in touch in regards to new opportunities and more specifically ring fenced opportunities which are very hard to come by. They are a positive resource to have for care leavers and I hope they continue to grow and work closely with DFF in the future.’
Partnerships between charities and the Covenant do not only exist on the basis of the charities acting as referral partners. Some charities are able to make an offer of support that enhances a job opportunity offered by a corporate partner and others offer direct job opportunities within the charity itself. The below case studies highlight a few examples of such relationships.
Springboard is a charity dedicated to the advancement in life and education of young people under the age of 25 by the provision of advice, training and skills courses. They signed the Covenant at a Covenant event March 2019 and have worked with us since, most significantly in a triangular partnership with the hospitality agency Compass UK & Ireland. In this arrangement Springboard enhances the work opportunities that Compass offers by attaching a 2-week pre-employment training programme prior to interviews, providing the applicants with the best possible chance of success. However Springboard also runs pre-employment programmes with other employment partners, and works with the Covenant to recruit care leavers onto these programmes.
This more supported route into the workforce is an essential opportunity for care leavers who are not ready to go straight into the job market. Such courses provide preparation for interviews, help with CVs and a greater understanding of workplace expectations which prepare participants for recruitment processes and beyond. Although Springboard were already engaging in getting under-represented groups into employment, the Covenant has brought a greater understanding of care leavers as a specific group in need of support to the organisation, enabling more care leavers to access these opportunities.
Tony Mullen, Employability Programmes Manager at Springboard says:
“At the Springboard Charity we have been working in close collaboration with Care Leaver Covenant for close to a year now and we are very much behind their cause of supporting young people from care to independence.
As a charity ourselves our mission is to help transform the lives of people who have barriers to work by supporting them into sustainable employment in the hospitality, leisure and tourism industry. Through our partnership with the Care Leaver Covenant we have been able to support a number of young people from care by providing them with the training, confidence and opportunity necessary to secure paid work. During this time we have found Care Leaver Covenant to be extremely professional, attentive and supportive. They are an amazing group of people with a hugely important cause and they are doing great work.
In an employment context more businesses are aware of the challenges young people from care face. Indeed, one global company that we work closely with has gone so far as to start a programme in partnership with us specifically to support young people from care into sustainable jobs within their business. On the back of initial success this programme, which started as a pilot in London, is being expanded into other parts of the UK. Our message from the Care Leaver Covenant is keep up the great work”
As well as this kind of targeted support that links explicitly with an employment offer, the Covenant works with charities that offer wrap around support for care leavers seeking employment. The Covenant was put in touch with SmartWorks through contacts made in the creative industries who felt that care leavers may benefit from the services SmartWorks provide.
SmartWorks run a referral only service offering one-on-one interview preparation and a complete interview outfit for unemployed women who have a confirmed interview. After a visit to the SmartWorks office in North London to see the service at work the Covenant partnered with SmartWorks. This means that any female care leaver who is preparing for a job interview can contact the Covenant and be referred to access support in any of the six cities across England where SmartWorks operates.
A further example of voluntary organisations offering wrap-around support to care leavers is the Covenant’s partnership with the London-based charity Become. Become are a charity for children in care and care leavers and they offer comprehensive information, guidance and mentoring support for care leavers across the city. The Covenant made the connection with Become after meeting at GLA events and saw the opportunity to link up so that Become could support more young people who are trying to access Covenant opportunities.
The Covenant is now able to link up candidates who need extra support with the mentors at Become to build their confidence and explore their options. Connections such as these give the Covenant pathways to access support for care leavers who are taking up Covenant opportunities but would benefit from further preparation or encouragement.
The Salvation Army
Although voluntary organisations primarily work with the Covenant to offer support, guidance or resources to care leavers in various way, some are able to make an offer of work experience or job opportunities within their organisations. The Salvation Army attended a Covenant event in Birmingham in March 2019 and were keen to see what they could offer to support care leavers. The Covenant had many phone calls with their Regional Volunteering Coordinators to develop their offer, discussing potential job types and the discounts and other perks available to care leavers who would take up these positions.
The Salvation Army now offers a guaranteed interview on application for any care leaver applying for a voluntary position at any of their 250 stores nationwide. This offer includes the opportunity to complete NVQs and participate in eLearning courses as well as gaining work experience in a retail environment and a reference for future work opportunities. It also represents an opportunity for care leavers to build their confidence, learn new skills and make new friends and connections in their local communities.
Travel expenses are paid and those taking up the placements also get a 25% discount in all Salvation Army stores, providing access to affordable furniture and other bits and pieces for their homes. There is also the possibility for moving on to paid employment within the Salvation Army where vacancies are available.
The work being undertaken by charities in collaboration with the Covenant is crucial in building supported pathways for care leavers into employment. Charities are on hand to offer the one-on-one guidance and encouragement that all young people need in order to identify the opportunities they want to pursue and have the confidence and skills to achieve success.
In addition to acting as referral partners many charities are able to offer assistance and opportunities to the care leaver community as part of their commitment to the Covenant. Charities will continue being an essential ingredient for the Covenant’s growth, connecting us to the individuals, organisations and communities that make the Covenant work.