LifeSkills

LifeSkills

Covenant Stories

Supporting care leavers to be financially independent.

Signatory: LifeSkills created with Barclays
Location: Nationwide

What is ‘LifeSkills created with Barclays’?

LifeSkills created with Barclays is a free employability programme which gives people the skills, knowledge and confidence they need to succeed in work. LifeSkills has supported over 10 million people since launching in 2013.

LifeSkills were an early signatory of the Covenant in 2018 and have committed to supporting care leavers through specially tailored educational materials, which are invaluable for building financial competence and independence.

What’s the story?

LifeSkills created a specific suite of lesson plans with topics ranging from paying bills, to budgeting, saving, being fraud aware and more, which are marked as ‘care leaver content’, and easily searchable on the LifeSkills website. There are also interactive tools, films and activities within the ‘Young People’ hub which young people can access in their own time, to develop their financial and core transferable skills.

Metro Bank

Do you relate to this?

If you, or someone you know, has been affected any of the issues covered in this article, and you feel you may benefit from our free impartial advise, do please contact us.

“It’s not like when you turn 16, 17 and all of a sudden you know how to be an adult. It doesn’t work like that… I haven’t met a care leaver, yet, who is not in debt.”

Casey, Wolverhampton

Metro Bank

Metro Bank

Covenant Stories

Supporting care leavers to be financially independent.

Signatory: Metro Bank
Location: Nationwide

About Metro Bank

Metro Bank is the newest high street bank in the country and now has over 75 branches across England and Wales.

Metro Bank quickly became known for its exceptional customer service, winning a variety of awards and attracting customers into store while other banks close their branches to focus on online banking.

Metro Bank are committed to finding solutions for vulnerable customers and we encouraged them create a supportive account opening process that responded to challenges typically faced by care leavers.

What’s the story?

Through careful procedural work within Metro Bank, and close collaboration with the Covenant and local authority care leaving teams, Metro Bank developed a bespoke account opening process for care leavers that removes the need for a long-term fixed address and photo ID.

The process, which can be requested in any of their stores in England, was recently piloted by a group of young people in Oxford (central Oxford store) with the support of the National House Project and Oxford City Council.

The straightforward process and supportive staff in store were well received by the young people involved, with seven young people opening accounts.

Metro Bank

Do you relate to this?

If you, or someone you know, has been affected any of the issues covered in this article, and you feel you may benefit from our free impartial advise, do please contact us.

How does it work?

 

“With my work I need a bank account because it gives me a bit of independence. Instead of pay slips having to be sent to someone else I can manage my own money and learn to save, and when to spend and when not to. That’s been really important to me since I got a job.

The Metro Bank staff were really straightforward and helpful and had information ready for questions that might be asked. It was really good to go into branch as it was nice to be able to talk face-to-face. It meant that I was able to get straight answers and I was out of there within 15 minutes. It was easier than I thought it would be.”

Isobel, Oxford

Tuckers Solicitors

Tuckers Solicitors

Covenant Stories

Supporting care leavers to live independently.

Signatory: Tuckers Solicitors
Location: Nationwide

Who is Tuckers?

Tuckers is the UK’s leading criminal defence law firm. Established in 1983, they have over 150 lawyers based across their exceptional office network: from Kent in the South to Birmingham, Stoke, Manchester and many more locations.

With their national coverage and commitment to human rights and fair treatment, Tuckers have become an invaluable signatory to the Care Leaver Covenant.

What’s the story?

Understanding the legal system, from detention to court appearance, can be a challenge for care leavers and the individuals who work with them. We felt that human discussion, rather than long written documents, was a better way to explore this and communicate it to care leavers.

As part of National Care Leavers week 2020, we delivered two seminars with Tuckers and our partners, the National House Project, to help with navigating these challenges. The seminars provide practical advice and guidance on legal rights, as well as lived experiences from a care leaver.

Bournville Village Trust

Do you relate to this?

If you, or someone you know, has been affected any of the issues covered in this article, and you feel you may benefit from our free impartial advise, do please contact us.

How to access Tuckers’ support

(Please click here for all information on Tuckers’ offer to care leavers)

If you, or a care leaver you are working with, needs legal support, please make contact with the office closest to the young person’s residence using the following points of contact. If you’d like to contact us by phone, use the central number 0845 200 3367.

Manchester – Franklin Sinclair – 

Bury – Paul Callaghan –

Birmingham – James Turner – 

London – Adam Makepeace – 

Kent – Richard Atkinson – 

Sussex – Kirsty Craghill – 

Stoke on Trent – Debbie Leadbeater – 

Taunton – Paul Light – 

Our full contact page is here

“Although care experienced people often have a number of professionals offering them support in the community, unless those professionals know about one another they can’t provide a joined-up approach to help resolve issues.  We have worked to raise the profile of the issues affecting those with care experience in the Criminal Justice System with the aim of improving outcomes for them.”

James Turner Senior Partner, Tuckers Solicitors

Severn Trent – Big Difference Scheme

Severn Trent – Big Difference Scheme

Covenant Stories

Supporting care leavers to live independently.

Signatory: Severn Trent Water
Locations: Coventry, Wolverhampton, Shropshire, Birmingham, Telford & Wrekin

Severn Trent – Big Difference Scheme

Severn Trent is one of the largest water suppliers In the UK, based In Coventry and servicing millions of homes across the Midlands. As a critical utility provider, they understand the impact they have on the successful transition of care leavers transitioning to independent living. Working In partnership with Coventry City Council and in support of the Care Leaver Covenant, Severn Trent launched an ‘Industry First’ initiative to provide financial support for care leavers.

What’s the opportunity?

For many care leavers, managing bills and personal finances for the first time can be daunting and isolating. Care leavers face the challenge of paying a variety of utility bills for the first time, unaided, which can be difficult to navigate, and many are ending up in arrears with providers.  

Severn Trent’s ‘Big Difference’ scheme tackles this. The pilot, which rolled out across Coventry in 2020, involved hundreds of care leavers who were offered 70% off bills in their first year and further discounts off their bills until the age of 25.

The success of the pilot led Severn Trent to work with the Covenant to identify other local authorities – within their network – who wanted to participate. In 2021 plans to roll out this social tariff across the West Midlands means that over 1,500 care leavers could benefit from the scheme.

Severn Trent also have plans to develop a Graduate and Apprentice Hub In Coventry and provide a space to offer training, support and life skills to care leavers across the city.

Severn Trent

Do you relate to this?

If you, or someone you know, has been affected any of the issues covered in this article, and you feel you may benefit from our free impartial advise, do please contact us.

How does it work?

  • Severn Trent and/or Care Leaver Covenant work in collaboration with local authorities to identify leaving care teams willing to participate In the scheme.
  • Data sharing agreement Is signed between the organisation and local authority
  • Participation/Personal advisors Identify care leavers eligible for the scheme and make a referral via a SPOC within the authority.
  • Severn Trent will match those account holders to the data shared by the authority to correctly apply any relevant discounts to that person’s account.
  • The care leaver will then automatically benefit from the scheme.
  • Data and progress are shared with the Covenant as part of their signatory commitment.

Impact

  • Already in 2021 over 188 young people across Wolverhampton & Coventry are benefitting from the discount to their water bills.
  • Shropshire, Telford & Wrekin and Birmingham are all in the process of registering care leavers.
  • Current yearly bills for water and sewage from Severn Trent are £369 (2020/21). This means care leavers in their first year will save over £250.

“I’m really happy that we don’t need to pay as much towards the water as this is a new tenancy and we’re still settling into adult life and are looking for discounts wherever we can find them. This massive discount in our water provides a lot of help towards running our home.”

Bree Reeves Coventry

Bourneville Village Trust

Bourneville Village Trust

Covenant Stories

Supporting care leavers to live independently.

Signatory: Bourneville Village Trust
Location: Birmingham

Who is Bourneville Village Trust (BVT)?

BVT is a charity and community-based housing organisation working in Birmingham and Shropshire. Founded by George Cadbury, of Cadbury chocolate, BVT’s mission is to sustain communities where people can thrive.

What’s the story?

Housing is a challenge for many care leavers who typically do not have the family, social and financial support that it takes to move into an independent home when you’re just starting out in adult life. It is essential that we support care leavers to find safe and secure living environments so that they have the base from which to socialize, pursue EET, financial independence and all kinds of activities.

As a community-based housing organisation, BVT are committed to supporting care leavers. They signed the Covenant in 2020 in order provide more focused opportunities.

In January 2020 we introduced BVT to Sabrina, an exceptional young woman who was studying and job hunting and wasn’t comfortable in her accommodation. BVT quickly created the opportunity for Sabrina to enhance her standard of living. The flat BVT offered her was not only affordable but it came with added benefits such as a Communities Officer, who checks in every 4 weeks, and a dedicated Welfare Inclusion Officer, who can offer support including financial advice.

This has worked well for Sabrina and the support is not limited to her. BVT offer all of their care leavers this tailored support, as well as advice on things like the cheapest energy tariffs and cheap contents insurance – useful hacks when you’re starting out!

Bournville Village Trust

Do you relate to this?

If you, or someone you know, has been affected any of the issues covered in this article, and you feel you may benefit from our free impartial advise, do please contact us.

How does it work?

Get in touch with BVT at  using the subject line Care Leaver Covenant Support. If you don’t have regular email/internet access, ask a support worker to get in touch on your behalf.

BVT will offer where possible:           

  1. Move-on accommodation in our social rented properties where suitable and beneficial to the care leaver
  2. An initial offer of focused support to manage their tenancy during the first 12 months, followed by ad hoc support after this time
  3. Support in developing their skills/using their experience through our ‘Village Voices’ and community-led activities.

“The Covenant have been a really great help and I’ve loved working with them. I still can’t believe that I got the opportunity to get my new house! This has helped me to gain confidence and a sense of peace knowing that there are people who can give [me] great support!”.

Sabrina Care Leaver

ENGIE

ENGIE

Covenant Stories

Supporting care leavers to live in safe and secure environments

Signatory: Engie
Locations: Birmingham, Leeds, Manchester, Tamworth, Wakefield

Who is Engie?

Engie is a leading energy and services company focused on three key activities: production and supply of energy, facilities management and regeneration. Engie were an early signatory of the Covenant in 2018 and have been providing invaluable support since. When organisations sign the Covenant, we ask how they can draw on their unique expertise and resources to support care leavers – Engie’s opportunities are a great example of this.

What’s the opportunity?

For many care leavers, social housing is a good option for a first independent residence. Unfortunately, these houses are sometimes poorly maintained and poorly furnished and the incoming tenant may not have the means or family support to refurbish it.

Engie’s ‘Helping Hands’ programme tackles this. Helping Hands involves Engie staff refurbishing care leavers’ homes free of charge. To date Engie have provided painting & decorating, garden clearance, fitting curtains and blinds, flooring, white goods and furniture to make living spaces more comfortable and safe. In Maisie’s case, Engie supplied a laid a new carpet in her flat in Birmingham – watch the video to see the transformation!

Another care leaver, Katie, received a total redecoration with Engie supplying paint and an expert painter as well as readying the flat for new carpets to be laid a couple of weeks later.

ENGIE Logo

Do you relate to this?

If you, or someone you know, has been affected any of the issues covered in this article, and you feel you may benefit from our free impartial advise, do please contact us.

Engie001
Engie002
Engie003

How does it work?

  • Care leaver, who has moved into first independent home, referred into Engie by local authority or Covenant team
  • Engie look at local projects to see if they have manpower and resources to support the care leaver.
  • Where it is possible to carry out ‘Helping Hands’ work, Engie team liaise with Covenant / local authority and young person to decide what work will be carried out and what resources are required.
  • Engie arrange date and team for visit with young person.
  • Work is completed and documented by Engie and Covenant teams.

Impact

  • 31 young people’s homes transformed
  • Delivering support in 5 cities including Birmingham, Leeds and Manchester.
  • Engie have also recruited 5 care leavers into Apprenticeships.

“I can’t thank ENGIE enough for giving my flat a complete makeover as when I first saw the state of the flat, I was a bit overwhelmed as I knew I wouldn’t be able to afford to get it decorated in the foreseeable future”. I have now moved in and am absolutely over the moon with my first home since leaving foster care and I can’t thank ENGIE enough”.

Katie Care Leaver

Contact for further information:

To find out more please contact 01709 766 000 and places.engie.co.uk.