Opportunity | Details

Care Leavers Wanted



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Lancaster University

Summary: We fully support the Centre for Social Justice and First Star’s pledge and recognise that by encouraging a greater number of care leavers to study.

Further Details:

1. Student

Commitment and Collaboration

Lancaster University is committed to social mobility and removing barriers to access for under-represented groups. We believe that all students with the potential to progress to higher education should have the opportunity to study at university, irrespective of their background.

We fully support the Centre for Social Justice and First Star’s pledge and recognise that by encouraging a greater number of care leavers to study at Lancaster, we can create an inclusive learning community, which celebrates difference and contributes positively to the experience of care leavers on a local and national level.

Early Intervention and Targeted Outreach

Outreach and Student Success (OSS) work in partnership with other North West Higher Education Institutions (HEIs), Lancashire County Council (LCC) and Virtual Schools to provide a series of targeted interventions for young people in care, practitioners and foster carers with the aim of increasing HE participation rates. This collaborative provision includes:

  • The Empowering Practitioners Conference: An online twilight CPD programme for professionals such as personal advisors, social workers and foster carers. The aim is to provide up-to-date advice and guidance to ensure that supporters and key influencers are confident to advise young people in care on higher education issues: https://www.lancashire.gov.uk/practitioners/training/foster-carer-training- home/course-index/empowering-practitioners-first-steps-to-university-fc98/
  • Care leavers aged 18-25: an online HE information event to raise awareness of university and highlight alternative progression routes to care leavers that may have previously disregarded higher education as an option.
  • Empower Academy: designed to introduce Year 9-11 students in care (and their foster parents) to the concept of higher education. Young people take part in a ‘taster day’ at four partner universities to find out about the differences between campus and city-based providers, as well as dispelling myths about HE affordability and learning about the financial and pastoral support available to care leavers. A small number of Student Ambassadors deliver activities to facilitate peer-to-peer learning and share authentic insights into university life. Young people and their foster carers are also invited to a ‘Graduation Ceremony’ at the end of the project to celebrate their learning and reflect on their achievements.Young peoples’ eligibility to participate in these targeted Outreach interventions is determined by Lancashire County Council and Virtual Schools.EligibilityLancaster University recognises the following definitions:
  • A care leaver is someone who has been in care for at least 3 months including their 14th birthday.
  • Care-experienced is someone who has been in care for a period before their 18th birthday.Priority Access to Widening Participation InitiativesLancaster University’s OSS team give young people in care priority access to a range of Outreach and Student Success interventions. Young people in care are only required to meet one widening participation criteria (i.e. care leaver status), rather than the standard two widening participation criteria to secure a place on an initiative.Young people in care have priority access to the Lancaster Access Programme, a pre-entry initiative for young people in years 9-12. If a care leaver completes 100 ‘credits’ of Outreach activity, they may be eligible for an alternative offer if they decide to apply to Lancaster University in the future.More information about Outreach opportunities is available on the LU website:https://www.lancaster.ac.uk/widening-participation/access/Social Work at LancasterLancaster University recognises the value of care leavers entering the social work profession and so, as part of the Care Leavers Covenant, Social Work have agreed to support:
  • Pre-entry Outreach activities for young people in care by providing subject tasters and careers insights led by LU academics, care-experienced Social Work students and alumni.
  • Priority admission to Access to Social Work, an Outreach programme that targets Year 13 students from WP backgrounds studying Access and BTEC pathway qualifications. This four-stage initiative will give young people in care an introduction to Social Work, access to a subject taster session, personal statement workshop, on campus visit day and mock interviews to prepare these young people to apply for a Social Work degree at Lancaster.The NHS Business Services Authority (NHSBSA) provide a limited number of undergraduate and postgraduate Social Work students with a bursary on behalf of the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC). These Social Work Bursaries are administered via universities who agree a shortlist of students based on eligibility and capping criteria set by the DHSC: https://www.nhsbsa.nhs.uk/social-work-students. The Social Work team at Lancaster will prioritise care leavers when making recommendations for this bursary support from 2021-2022 entry onwards.Contextual AdmissionsCare leavers are a priority group within Lancaster University’s Admissions policy.Under Consideration: We are currently exploring the use of contextual admissions. This may include care leavers qualifying for a reduced offer.Lancaster University Medical School is committed to recruiting medical students from all backgrounds to reflect the diversity of our society. Care leavers may be eligible for the Medical School’s Contextual Offer Scheme (a contextually lowered offer of ABB), if they fulfil one or more additional widening participation criteria, if they meet the academic entry requirements and are successful at interview.More information about the Medical School’s Contextual Offer Scheme is available on the LU website:https://www.lancaster.ac.uk/lms/medicine/mbchb-medicine-and-surgery/entry-requirements/

Alternatively, care leavers whose grades do not meet the entry requirements for Medicine may be eligible for Medicine and Surgery with a Gateway Year. More information about eligibility and academic entry requirements is available on the LU website: https://www.lancaster.ac.uk/study/undergraduate/courses/medicine-with-a-gateway-year-mbchb-a104/

Student Success, Retention and Progression across the Student Lifecycle

A Designated Member of Staff

Lancaster University has a dedicated Care Contact within the Transitions team to assist care leavers and create a cohesive support network beyond corporate parenting principles. The Transitions Officer acts as a single point of contact (on a one-to-one basis) for care leavers and care-experienced students to offer advice. This includes signposting care leavers to access University support services i.e. finance, careers, mental health and wellbeing.

The Transitions team offer care leavers opportunities to network with other care-experienced students through bespoke social events, alongside a standard Wellbeing Programme available to all students which includes ‘Tea and Chat’ sessions, trivia quizzes and other wellbeing activities.

Care leavers are also given priority access to:

  • Peer mentoring: gives students the chance to connect with an experienced mentor who can provide pastoral support with any arising issues. Mentors are rigorously trained and supervised by the Transitions team to ensure all participants receive high quality support and are safeguarded appropriately.
  • Group mentoring: offered to care leavers each academic year, uptake is dependent on student interest and engagement. The format of group mentoring is a weekly staff-led space to celebrate successes and discuss challenges with students in similar situations.
  • Pre-arrival buddying: provides students the opportunity to learn more about university life and make friends before their arrival at Lancaster. The programme runs from August to October over WhatsApp. Incoming students are placed in a small group of 4-6 (based on shared interests). An experienced and trained Student Facilitator manages each group, answering questions and assisting students to connect and develop a support network before they arrive.Financial SupportCare leavers and estranged students studying at Lancaster can access the following financial assistance in addition to standard University financial support:
  • A £2,000 annual Care Leaver Bursary. This is available to all students who have been in care for three months or more, including their 14th birthday, and may be available to other care-experienced students who have significant experience of care.
  • A Welcome Pack in their first year, including a £50 shopping voucher, £20 laundry card, £20 print credit and bedding.
  • A Graduation Package to support with graduation costs such as gown hire and photography.
  • A Graduation Bursary of £500 (paid in the June of a student’s final year) to support care leavers with additional costs when first leaving University such as travel to interviews and deposits for accommodation.
  • Care leavers have priority access to Lancaster’s Opportunity and Access Fund to help those experiencing financial hardship.
  • Lancaster also offers other bursaries and grants in addition to the Care Leavers’ Bursary. Further information is available by contacting the Student Funding team via email: studentfunding@lancaster.ac.uk

Securing Sustainable Accommodation

Care leavers are given priority access to 52 Week accommodation providing that they apply for accommodation by the specified deadline. This offer applies to all undergraduate care leavers in any academic year and accommodation is charged at the standard rate. If care leavers are required to move out of this accommodation during summer vacation periods, the Transitions team will support students to find alternative accommodation and source funding from their local authority. Evidence of eligibility is determined by a letter provided by a social worker or personal advisor to confirm a student’s status as a young person in local authority care.

Lancaster Success Programme (LSP)

Care leavers also receive priority access if they apply for the Lancaster Success Programme, a post-entry scheme that helps students from under-represented groups to prepare for and succeed at Lancaster. This provision includes a transitional taster day in September, one-to-one personal development coaching with a Student Success Officer, tailored workshops, access to subsidised Global Opportunities and a Student Enrichment Fund.

More information about the Lancaster Success Programme is available on the LU website:

Transparent and Accessible Information for Care Leavers

Lancaster University has a responsibility to provide transparent information to care leavers about the support available so that young people can make informed decisions. Lancaster advertises its Care Leaver Offer via two main channels:

  • The Propel site: https://propel.org.uk/Details/lancaster-university
  • A dedicated page on the LU website: https://www.lancaster.ac.uk/student-and-education-services/disability/transitions-team/care-leavers/This information is reviewed on an annual basis to ensure that it is easy to navigate, up-to-date and reflective of any changes or additions to guidance or best practice.Lancaster University is also keen to become a member of the National Network for the Education of Care Leavers (NNECL) and is currently waiting for the outcomes of NNECL’s Kitemark Pilot with the long-term consideration of signing up to the ‘Gold Standard.’Student VoiceLancaster University is committed to continuously improving the student experience and consulting those from under-represented groups about the services that we provide to both prospective and current students. We actively consult young people in care and care leavers in the following ways:
  • Young people in care are encouraged to provide feedback on the Outreach opportunities that they would like to see in future via Lancashire County Council’s Care Leavers Forum.
  • Where possible, current students with care leaver status are employed as Student Ambassadors to facilitate Outreach activities and provide an authentic insight into the Lancaster student experience.
  • The designated Care Contact within the Transitions team works closely with care leavers to understand engagement barriers and refine provision accordingly.
  • Care leavers are invited to take part in focus groups delivered by Outreach and Student Success to share insights into their Lancaster University experience and shape future initiatives.All feedback derived from the above mechanisms will be taken into consideration as part of the annual review of the Care Leavers Covenant.

2. A Robust Employment Offer

High Quality Careers Information, Advice and Guidance (Current Students)

Lancaster University recognises that care leavers face additional barriers and challenges throughout their educational journey and developing their employability skills is vital for care leavers’ continued success and progression. The Careers Service provides a range of bespoke opportunities for young people from widening participation backgrounds (subject to annual review and continued funding) and care leavers are eligible for the following opportunities, depending on availability:

  • Annual one-to-one Careers interviews (per year of study) with a designated Careers Contact.
  • Priority booking on Careers workshops to support students to develop key skills such as emotional intelligence, conflict management, resilience, teamwork, leadership, cultural awareness, and presentation skills.
  • The Lancaster Award https://www.lancaster.ac.uk/careers/students/the-lancaster-award/
  • Digital Skills Certificate https://answers.lancaster.ac.uk/display/ISS/Digital+skills+certificate to assist care leavers to enhance their employability, develop transferable skills and evidence core competencies.
  • Access to ‘Grow your Future’ programmes:
    • CapitalConnections: a chance to experience London or Manchester, visit graduate employers, take part in a range of employability opportunities, network with Lancaster graduates and learn more about travelling and living in a big city.
    • Future Leader Experiences: a 3-day free Leadership Development Programme delivered for Lancaster University by Common Purpose, an independent, international leadership organisation.

Care leavers interested in applying for the above programmes will be offered a one-to-one appointment with a designated contact in the Careers team to discuss these opportunities and how to apply.

More information about Grow Your Future is available on the LU website: https://www.lancaster.ac.uk/careers/students/equality-and-diversity/grow/

We are aware that care leavers may also face financial obstacles to accessing opportunities that enhance their employability, provide work experience or represent the first step to securing a graduate job. Therefore, care leavers are eligible for two types of financial assistance through the Careers Service, subject to annual review and continued availability:

    • Work Experience Bursary: a limited bursary fund to contribute towards the cost of career-related summer work experience in the UK or overseas (either voluntary work or a low paid role). This bursary can be used to cover travel, accommodation and dependant’s care costs.

Travel2Interview Bursary: up to £400 per academic year to cover travel/accommodation costs to attend interviews or assessment centres for graduate jobs, internships or further study.

Internship and Placement Opportunities

Lancaster University supports students to apply for a range of internship and placement opportunities, including Study Abroad options according to the following definitions:

  • An internship is a period of work experience offered by an organisation that lasts for a fixed period of time. It is suitable for students and graduates looking to gain relevant skills and experience in a particular field.
  • A placement is a longer internship (usually a year, but there are shorter variants). Some degree courses require students to complete a compulsory placement during each year of study, whilst other degree courses offer a ‘year in industry’ or optional placement modules.Opportunities differ according to faculty and department. More information about internship and placement options is available on the LU website:
  • Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences: https://www.lancaster.ac.uk/fass-placements/
  • Faculty of Science and Technology: https://www.lancaster.ac.uk/sci-tech/business/student-engagement/science-and-technology-internships-programme/
  • Lancaster University Management School: https://www.lancaster.ac.uk/lums/undergraduate/placements-and-study-abroad/
  • Faculty of Health and Medicine: https://www.lancaster.ac.uk/health-and-medicine/study/undergraduate/To improve awareness and knowledge of internship and placement opportunities, care leavers will be directed to Careers or Faculty Employability teams so that they can receive specialist advice and support.The University’s Employment and Recruitment Service (ERS) advertises a range of part-time and temporary positions at Lancaster University and in the local community. The ERS operates a Student Referral Scheme to assist students that are finding it difficult to obtain their first employment opportunity or work experience. Participating students benefit from a maximum of 10 hours of work experience per academic year, following a one-to-one appointment with a member of the ERS team to discuss the types of work available, identify any potential barriers and signpost students to employability resources and further Careers support. Once students have accessed the scheme and completed their work opportunity, they are encouraged and supported by the ERS to apply for other job vacancies, subject to availability.Careers colleagues will work in partnership with the ERS to give care leavers priority access to the Student Referral Scheme from 2020-2021 onwards, reviewing provision on an annual basis to ensure it is fit-for- purpose and continually improve the service for care leavers following student feedback.More information about the Employment and Recruitment Service is available on the LU website: https://www.lancaster.ac.uk/employment-and-recruitment-service/Insights from graduate employers help to raise students’ career aspirations and encourage self-reflection and personal growth. The Employer Engagement team foster relationships with Times Top 100 and Guardian UK 300 graduate employers, along with local and regional SMEs to give Lancaster students the opportunity to talk to industry professionals, undertake an internship to develop a business and potentially kick-start their future career. The team deliver a variety of Employer Engagement events each year, with two specific events designed to encourage diversity and target Lancaster students from under-represented groups. These events are subject to change and will be reviewed on an annual basis:
  • Welcoming Workplaces (Diversity in the Workplace): this award winning, innovative event offers employers the opportunity to showcase themselves as genuine champions of diversity in the workplace. The event takes the form of a panel event, where recent graduates working in different organisations who identify with one or more diversity groups (BAME, Women, LGBTQ+, Disability, mental health or social mobility) speak to students about their personal experiences and how their company supports them and champions diversity. The Employer Engagement team, work closely with the Students’ Union to engage societies to ensure a diverse pool of students attend the event.
  • Placement Conference: an event dedicated to highlighting 12-month industrial placements and internship opportunities from top employers, aimed at first and second year students. The event takes

the form of a conference, with a series of employer panels, each on a different career sector including Finance; Government, Legal and Policy; Technology and Data; Sales, Marketing and Human Resources; Pharmaceutical and Medical. It is a fantastic opportunity to link students with graduate employers at an early point in the student journey and create a talent pipeline.

The purpose of these events is to create space for positive conversations between employers and students from under-represented groups to raise awareness of available opportunities, break down barriers to engagement, demystify the corporate world and encourage students to apply for placements and internships.

The Lancaster Career Mentoring Programme aims to match undergraduate students with a mentor in a career or industry of interest, where possible. Mentoring can help students to identify their career goals and think about different ways to achieve their objectives. Current students with care leaver status are eligible to apply for the Lancaster Career Mentoring Programme and every effort will be made to match them with a suitable mentor to expand their networks and make industry connections to support their progression into positive, graduate destinations. The allocation of a mentor is not guaranteed and is subject to availability.

More information about the Lancaster Career Mentoring Programme is available on the LU website: https://www.lancaster.ac.uk/careers/students/career-mentoring/#tabs-393329-0

Careers Information, Advice and Guidance for Care Leavers in the Community

Under Consideration: In addition to supporting care leavers at Lancaster University, a future development of the Care Leavers Covenant will focus on improving care leavers’ access to careers information, advice and guidance in the local community. For example, piloting careers coaching opportunities with a small cohort of young people in care/care leavers in future years.

Employment at Lancaster University

Lancaster University values the skills and experiences that care leavers bring to the workplace and is keen to improve access to employment opportunities for applicants from under-represented groups.

Under Consideration: Lancaster is exploring whether it is appropriate to implement a ‘guaranteed interview’ scheme for care leavers applying for vacancies at the University, this scheme would be subject to applicants meeting all essential criteria.

If a care leaver is recruited by Lancaster University, they will be offered coaching for the first 6 months to support their transition into employment and meet the challenges of their new role. Care leaver employees will also be given access to the Employee Assistance Programme (EAP) and Able Futures so that they can receive specialist advice for health and wellbeing, financial, legal or other personal concerns, as per the wider benefits of being a University employee.

All staff undertake an annual Professional Development Review (PDR) with their Line Manager to discuss core priorities and identify development areas. As part of this process, care leavers will be given the opportunity to participate in a range of internal CPD opportunities provided by Organisational and Educational Development (OED), alongside mentoring, apprenticeships and other external training courses.

More information about staff development opportunities is available on the LU website: https://www.lancaster.ac.uk/oed/

3. Community

Lancaster values the transformative power of community networks and strongly believes that the University is well placed to “play a wider role of engagement as a civic leader – contributing and leading culturally, socially, intellectually and economically” to benefit society in a regional, national and global context. Lancaster University delivers several community engagement activities that are open to all and free to the public:

  • Public lecture series: https://www.lancaster.ac.uk/events/public-lectures/
  • Campus in the City: https://www.lancaster.ac.uk/events/campus-in-the-city/ (bi-annual event)
  • Community Day: https://www.lancaster.ac.uk/events/community-day/ (bi-annual event)The University has also identified other ways to support young people in care and care leavers to encourage them to join the Lancaster community.Lancaster ArtsLancaster Arts is a public arts organisation based at the University that aims to provide opportunities to enhance the student experience and foster a diverse arts audience with a focus on under-represented groups and equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI).Lancaster Arts can offer a limited number of free tickets for theatre and concert performances on
    campus for Lancaster University students with care leaver status. Free tickets can be claimed by contacting: boxoffice@lancasterarts.orgPlease be aware that we will verify care leaver status with the Care Contact at Lancaster University. Please visit the Lancaster Arts website for details of our current season: https://www.lancasterarts.org/whats-on/

    Lancaster Arts is also willing to provide creative insight sessions as part of pre-entry Outreach work with young people in care and priority access to volunteering opportunities. Young people in care and care leavers can request further information and sign up for volunteering opportunities by emailing: volunteer@lancasterarts.org

More information about Lancaster Arts is available on the LU website: https://www.lancasterarts.org/

Lancaster University Sports Centre and the Students’ Union

Lancaster University Sports Centre promotes the importance of an active lifestyle as part of a holistic approach to health and wellbeing.

To overcome financial barriers to engagement, young people in care and care leavers in the local community will be offered a discounted membership (Associate Membership) or ‘pay as you go’ rate at the concessional price so that they can access University sports facilities. Please note that the concessional ‘pay as you go’ fee is only eligible during off peak times. Young people in care and care leavers will need to provide a letter from their social worker or personal advisor to confirm their looked-after/care leaver status and this verification process can take place via email: sportenquiries@lancaster.ac.uk

Lancaster University students require a Sports Centre membership to join a competitive sports team. For care leavers, this financial stipulation may be a barrier to participation. To address this issue, care leavers can apply to the Sport Lancaster Access Fund to secure funding to cover the cost of a Sports Centre membership. Funding is limited and subject to availability.

Care leavers can find out more information about the Sport Lancaster Access Fund, eligibility criteria and how to apply via the Students’ Union website: https://help.lancastersu.co.uk/support/solutions/articles/11000061113-frequently-asked-questions-about-the-sport-lancaster-access-fund

Lancaster University students with care leaver status will be automatically eligible for 5 free swims and £15 credit to use on activities of their choice. The credits will be allocated to their accounts once
their eligibility has been confirmed.

Law and Tax Clinics

Lancaster University Law School are keen to support the Care Leavers Covenant by improving access to legal information, advice and guidance. Young people in care, care leavers and foster carers can access free, high quality advice through the Lancaster University Law Clinic on a range of legal concerns including family, employment, education, consumer, and tenancy law. While the clinics predominantly work with those across Lancaster and Morecambe, a virtual clinic allows us to speak to clients from anywhere in England & Wales via telephone or video-conference. Young people in care, care leavers and foster carers can also assess support with filling out forms i.e. applying for housing benefits or submitting appeals.

Young people in care, care leavers and foster carers can also access free tax advice through the North West Tax Clinic, which is an initiative run by Lancaster University and the University of Central Lancashire (UCLAN) under the umbrella of TaxAid.

The Law and North West Tax Clinics are available during term-time and appointments can be booked via the LU website: https://www.lancaster.ac.uk/law/undergraduate/law/law-clinic/contact-us/

The Law School is willing to provide ‘Street Law’ sessions as part of pre-entry Outreach activities with young people in care to encourage these students to consider a career in Law. Street Law aims to provide a wider understanding of legal issues relevant to schools and community groups. For example, consumer rights, social media safety, scam prevention, Universal Credit and family law. The Law School are also keen to facilitate Street Law sessions on the rights of care leavers.

Collaborative Partnerships

Under Consideration: Lancaster University is looking to offer staff the opportunity to volunteer their time to support young people in care in collaboration with Lancashire County Council (LCC). Lancashire County Council deliver ‘Life Skills’ workshops for young people in care aged 14-17 years old. The aim of this programme is to support students to develop the knowledge and skills required to live independently in the future. Young people are also supported by Lancashire County Council to complete the ASDAN Living Independently Short Course to consolidate their knowledge and evidence their learning. LU staff could become a ‘Life Skills Guest Speaker’ and volunteer their time to create and deliver an interactive workshop for young people in care on a topic related to their job role and area of expertise. For example, delivering health and wellbeing sessions, food hygiene and cooking demonstrations and careers workshops.

As part of this ‘skills exchange’ Lancashire County Council will offer Lancaster University staff Care Leaver training (delivered by two former care leavers employed by LCC) to provide an authentic insight into the lived experience of care leavers, and the barriers faced by these young people to raise awareness and share best practice. Lancaster University will also provide a small monetary donation for each workshop delivered to contribute towards enrichment activities for young people in care and care leavers across Lancashire.

Building Brighter Futures with Santander

Santander is committed to social mobility and supporting diverse, ‘emerging talent’ within financial services to create an inclusive workplace environment. Santander is willing to support ‘Life Skills’ sessions for young people in care by delivering ‘Money Wise’ workshops, careers insights and employability sessions.

Support for Foster Carers

Lancaster University values the significant contribution that foster carers make to the lives of children and young people. In addition to ‘family friendly’ policies for adoption, maternity and discretionary leave, the University is exploring ways to support LU staff with foster caring responsibilities.

Under Consideration: Lancaster is exploring the creation of new institutional guidance to give foster carers paid time each year to attend mandatory training so they can develop their skills, access to up-to-date information and ultimately provide young people with safe, effective and inclusive care.

Next Steps

If you are interested please contact:

Carla Lockwood (Outreach Operations Manager)
01524 593758

Care Leaver Covenant

Any Queries?

If you have further questions or would like any more information, you can contact the Care Leaver Covenant at any time.

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