We don't leave care - care leaves us

Starting Together is our exciting new project in Southwark, matching female care leavers with volunteer mentors. I’ve just started working as its Project Coordinator and have been getting up to speed over the last few weeks, making sure we have everything in place to get things off the ground.

There’s a real need for this kind of mentoring as women are particularly vulnerable when they leave care.  They are much more susceptible to anxiety or depression than other young people and can struggle to access education or work. They are also more likely to become mothers earlier on - a quarter of these young women will be parents by the time they leave care.

A focus group carried out by King’s College highlighted the demand for this service. It was undertaken with a group of female care leavers who spoke openly about their experiences and how hard it can be when you are suddenly ‘launched’ into adulthood. They often feel overwhelmed and unready to make such a huge transition; as one young woman put it: “We don’t leave care, care leaves us”. The group said how great it would be to have a mentor at this point in their lives; someone who could support them and help with all the challenges they need to tackle.

We are running the project with the London Borough of Southwark and the Health Service and Population Research Department at King’s College, London. The initial plan is to match 15 young women to mentors. If things go well, we’d really like to extend the project so many more young women can benefit from this fantastic service.

We hope to start matching the first mentors and mentees in July. At the moment, we can only take referrals from the Southwark Care team,so if you’d like to refer a young woman who will be leaving the care system within the next six months, please contact me to start the referral process on 020 3111 0730 or at rachel@timebank.org.uk    

Alternatively, if you would like to be a volunteer on Starting Together, I would love to hear from you. You can find out more and register online here or contact me on the details above.