Care leavers enjoy sailing trip as part of council’s aspirations to offer more opportunities

PUBLISHED: 08:00 29 August 2018

Some of North Somerset's care leavers on the sailing trip. Picture: North Somerset Council

Some of North Somerset's care leavers on the sailing trip. Picture: North Somerset Council

North Somerset Council

The role North Somerset Council plays in the lives of children in care as they become adults is changing – and it is aiming to provide them with more opportunities.

The authority is supporting all care leavers until they are 25, whereas previously it only maintained responsibility for them up to that age if they were in higher education.

It has 225 care leavers at present, and officers have started looking at ways to provide them with new life experiences.

Council chairman David Jolley wanted to give teenagers in care, and those who have just left, the chance to try something new.

Using the chairman’s fund and sponsorship and donations from businesses, 10 care leavers aged 17-22 took part in a sailing trip in Plymouth and Scotland.

It was the first time such an endeavour had been organised in North Somerset before, and the care leavers were responsible for cooking, cleaning and sailing the boats.

Cllr Jolley said: “The aim was to widen horizons, make new friends and build self-esteem.

“I’m relieved because everyone came back and thought it was brilliant.

“It is encouraging us to try to do more.”

The authority runs a children in care council, where the young people can have their say on what should be offered and provides a room for all children in care to spend time in.

Some care leavers are also involved in apprenticeships with the council.

Social worker Liza Zakheim said: “We set the trips up as a challenge and to give them a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

“This is just the start. We are trying to get more and more opportunities for young people to do things they have never done.

“The opportunity to socialise and have different life experiences is really important.

“If we don’t do it as corporate parents, who will do it for our care leavers?”

The sailing trip has been hailed as a success, with the care leavers making new friends and one invited to join the crew as a volunteer on future trips.

The support from businesses was key to ensuring the sailing trips could go ahead, and council officers hope the generosity will continue.

Cllr Jolley said he next plans to provide trips and opportunities for some of the children in care.

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