Meeting the emotional needs of care leavers

Starting Together is our mentoring project, matching volunteers with young female care leavers. Starting in Southwark in May 2013, we’ve now expanded to other London boroughs, offering more young women access to this great support.

Mentors meet the young women for around five hours a month for six months, offering them practical and emotional support as they make the transition to independent living.

Young people are particularly vulnerable when they leave care and the project aims to act as a preventative measure to long-term mental health difficulties. A recent BBC report highlights this vulnerability, stating that the ‘emotional needs of children who have been in care are not being well looked after’. 

The report focuses on a study by Action for Children which reveals that 'Most young people who have been in care continue to cope with the lasting impact of a traumatic childhood. They can suffer from depression and anxiety, on top of dealing with the challenges of living on their own for the first time. They tell us that too often they feel alone with these difficulties - even when they have been helped with the practicalities of transition and finding somewhere to live.'

It calls for better ways of meeting such children's needs and warns that support must be ongoing to prevent them from following 'chaotic pathways'.

One young woman who is currently benefiting from the support of a TimeBank volunteer is Sara who was matched with her mentor, Genevieve, in September. They have already developed a great relationship.

Genevieve is helping Sara to find work, obtain her theory driving licence and learn to live more healthily. Sara has said that Genevieve is ‘friendly, motivating and patient’. Genevieve has been equally positive about the experience, saying that Sara is a ‘lovely person to be around’.

If you’d like to refer a female care leaver, please contact me to start the referral process on 020 3111 0730 or at Rachel@timebank.org.uk    

Alternatively, if you would like to become a volunteer on the project, I'd love to hear from you! You can find out more and complete an application form at www.timebank.org.uk/starting-together, or contact me on the email address or telephone number above.