Case Study

Sabrina & The Covenant
The Care Leaver Covenant is a government funded project that partners with private, public and voluntary organisations to support care leavers aged 16-25 in their transition from care to independence.
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.

Although we don’t get the chance to work directly with all of the care leavers who take up Covenant offers, sometimes we have the privilege of building personal connections with individuals such as Sabrina.

Sabrina is a care leaver who lives in Birmingham and is a Social Care student at the University of Wolverhampton. She first came into contact with the Covenant in September 2019 when she participated in a targeted recruitment day for care leavers at the Dunelm store in Wolverhampton.

The store manager was impressed by Sabrina’s performance in the interview and tasks but due to uncertainty around her schedule for her upcoming year at university they weren’t able to offer her the part-time role she applied for. The Covenant stayed in touch with her, trying to help her find roles that might fit around her studies.

In November 2019 Sabrina took part in a Covenant event in Birmingham, appearing on a panel to discuss the challenges that care leavers face finding work. Sabrina made a big impact, and one of the partners present was keen to find an opportunity for her, however nothing suitable was available at that time. We stayed in touch with Sabrina after the event, trying to support her as she looked for work and also struggled with housing issues.

Bournville Village Trust (BVT)

Toward the end of 2019 a Covenant team member met the Director of Communities from the Bournville Village Trust (BVT) whilst on a training course. BVT is a charity and housing organisation working in Birmingham and Shropshire whose mission is to create and sustain communities where people can thrive. Their work includes providing accommodation specifically for young people leaving care.

Having discussed a possible partnership between Covenant and BVT at the training course a follow-up meeting was organised where Covenant team members visited the BVT offices and saw their supported housing specifically for care leavers. Whilst work started on developing a formalised partnership between BVT and the Covenant, BVT agreed to keep in contact when a property next became available for a care leaver.

 

In January 2020 such an opportunity came up and knowing that Sabrina wasn’t happy in her current accommodation we felt that this could be a brilliant opportunity to improve her standard of living and support her whilst she studied and looked for work. We mentioned the possibility of a property in Bournville to Sabrina, and she was keen to go and view the property to get a sense of the area.

In mid-January we accompanied Sabrina to attend a viewing at BVT. She was impressed with the flat and felt that she would be safe and supported whilst living with BVT. Not only was the cost of living at BVT very reasonable but there were many other 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. BVT help their care leavers in residence find the cheapest energy tariffs, cheap contents insurance and have a discretionary fund to provide essential items.

Sabrina was offered the residence on a Monday and enthusiastically accepted. By Friday she had a set of keys! The staff at BVT were incredibly supportive and helpful throughout the entire process and the culture of continued support and care from the organisation make both the Covenant and Sabrina feel like this will be a happy home for her moving forward.

Sabrina says:

‘I first heard about the Care Leaver Covenant through the 18+ Care Leavers Service at the Birmingham Children’s Trust. They told me about the Dunelm job opportunity and that’s when I met Martha for the first time! My first impression of the Covenant was that everyone who works there is very nice and hospitable. They made me feel very relaxed and welcome.

 

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! Care leavers definitely gain a voice from the Covenant. We gain confidence and have a sense of peace knowing that there are people who can give us great support, and that we can use our past to help others just by speaking out!’

The personal relationship that formed between Sabrina and the Covenant over a number of months meant that we could work collaboratively to improve her situation. It is these personal connections and relationships that care leavers need, whether they give access to contacts, new opportunities, or even just the confidence to go after what they want. Our relationship with Sabrina will continue as we support her to find employment that works around her studies and beyond into the next chapters of her life.

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