Caring for care leavers: The Covenant Employers’ Charter

Published on: 18 Nov 2021

An independent life after a childhood in care needs more than just the statutory support councils provide.

As the Care Leaver Covenant (CLC) puts it: ‘Undoubtably, a large proportion of young people leave their care setting poorly prepared for independence. Typically, they lack the appropriate resource to acquire and hold down gainful employment as well as the skills needed to manage their financial affairs and domestic arrangements. They frequently do not have the social and emotional confidence or the family and friend networks that would provide the confidence and resilience to face the challenges of earning a living and making their way in society.’

Unfortunately, the statistics don’t lie. Forty per cent of all care leavers of 19, 20 and 21 years of age (in 2016) were not in employment, education or training compared to 14% of all 19, 20 and 21-year-olds. Even more worryingly, 20% of young homeless people have previously been in care.

That’s why, at Penna, we committed to the CLC in 2019 and became a signatory to their Employers’ Charter this year – we wanted to do our part in helping care leavers to leap into further education, exciting careers and a financially stable and fulfilling life. As a business, and society, we have a duty to help these young people flourish. A helping hand in the form of a well-meaning mentor, some CV advice, interview preparation…everything can make a difference.

The Employers’ Charter

I have had the privelige of working with the teams at Spectra and the CLC for some time, and this year I was proud to be invited to join the CLC’s Business Council. This board, chaired by Sir Peter Bazalgette, has recently launched the CLC Employers’ Charter. Together with other leading employers we have shaped the commitment to easily allow organisations to offer employment opportunities to vulnerable young people leaving care.

The new charter sets out nine principles for employers to adopt and outlines key activities to work towards in recruitment, tracking and development, ensuring that care leavers are identified and supported. Often care leavers are not able to access jobs in organisations which do not have tailored support for vulnerable employees, which the new charter aims to tackle.

We’re aiming for at least 100 signatories to the charter…and as large employers with public purpose I’m really hoping that local government will be some of the first to sign up.

The CLC is also looking for councils to partner with. You can start by raising awareness of the charter to all staff who work with care leavers. And, as major local employers, the charter could help support you in creating supported job opportunities within your council. You can also use your influence to create care leaver opportunities in other local employers such as housing developers and SMEs.

What we’re doing at Penna

Throughout the festive season, Penna and Stafford Long are delighted to be teaming up with the CLC.

We want to offer a more direct contribution to support care leavers this Christmas. After all, helping people into exciting career opportunities is our bread and butter. So in December Penna and Stafford Long will be volunteering to help care leavers with specific recruitment advice and guidance. Our volunteers will act as mentors, offering support around:

CV tailoring
Cover letter development
Career insights
University selection guidance
Or even just providing a friendly ear

We want to make a strong positive impact for individuals that don’t otherwise have the option of guidance from a parent or guardian, at a crucial time in their lives.

We’re also pledging our support through the Covenant Coffee Company. In December we are hoping to distribute bags and samples of their single-origin coffee among our network. The Covenant Coffee Company invests a percentage of its annual profits to a fund called ‘The bank of Mum and Dad’ – an initiative providing barista and corporate hospitality training enabling employment opportunities for young people in the UK.

What next?

So if you’d like to have a coffee on us and help young care leavers at the same time, just visit https://bit.ly/covenantcoffee.

Care leavers are diverse, socially mobile and have lived experiences that would bring valuable insight and added value to careers in local government and public service. We are in the midst of a talent crisis, so surely supporting this talented community into employment is a win win for us all.

Please sign up – go to https://bit.ly/employercharter for more. 

Julie Towers is managing director at Penna

Julie.towers@penna.com