Tonight, to mark National Care Leavers Week, iconic buildings across the country were illuminated in partnership with the Care Leaver Covenant. The lasminute.com London Eye, Blackpool Tower and Leicester City stadium were among the landmarks lit up blue in order to highlight and bring awareness to the experiences care leavers face as they transition out of the care system (at the age of 18) and into adulthood.
DJ and ambassador for Care Leavers Covenant, Pandora Christie hosted a fifth anniversary celebration event tonight at the iconic the lasminute.com London Eye which included a trip on the Eye followed by a reception at the dedicated ‘Eye Lounge’ on behalf of the Care Leaver Covenant. It was attended by a number of young people from Lambeth Council as well as friends of the Covenant and businesses who supported the initiative, since its inception in 2018.
The Covenant supplies mentorship, practical help with utilities as well as job opportunities and special offers from major signatory companies including Merlin Entertainments, Sky, Amazon and John Lewis. The Covenant also runs a dedicated app offering young people special offers, freebies and discounts as well as more information on further support.
Merlin Entertainments, the UK’s largest attractions and branded entertainment destination company is just one of the latest signatories to join the Care Leaver Covenant. Since signing up in August this year with their programme called Merlin Illuminate, they have already employed over 50 young people into new jobs in the last two months as well as offering a 50% discount to all Care Leavers for tickets to their 30+ attractions across the UK. The company also led the way in tonight’s lighting-up celebrations, offering two of its most iconic locations in London and Blackpool to light-up and mark the end of the important awareness week, which has inspired additional support from businesses and councils across the country.
Earlier this week, The Care Leaver Covenant released research looking at the nation’s attitude to employing young people fresh out of care. The research found that though there are progressive attitudes to celebrate, there still exists a lot of stigma towards candidates from the care system, which perhaps contributes to social issues among this group.
In response to the research outlining the advantages care leavers feel they’ve amassed in their often-tough life experience, the Care Leaver Covenant has created a powerful Out Of Home billboard campaign stating ‘Care Leavers Wanted’ and emblazoned with handwritten messages of positivity from care leavers in sixteen cities across the UK. The campaign went live in National Care Leavers Week, and includes empowering missives such as “I’m 100% self-made” and “Management potential? I’ve been managing myself since I was 10.”
“We launched the Care Leavers Wanted campaign during National Care Leavers Week to make sure our young people know they are wanted. That they are truly valued in society and among employers. It is incredible to see the nation come together in solidarity to amplify this message and to have our valued signatories work alongside us to reach as many people as possible. We want to continue to drive momentum around the campaign so we ask young people up and down the country to take a selfie with a Wanted billboard and help us continue these vital conversations beyond Care Leavers Week.”Matthew Gordon, Founder of the Care Leaver Covenant
“Tonight, we really do shine a light on our support for Care Leavers from our iconic attractions across the UK. Our Merlin Illuminate programme is designed to help care leavers get into the workplace, with employment opportunities, career advice, help with interview skills and CV creation, it’s an opportunity to really make a difference and lay the foundations for a bright future. As the Blackpool Tower and the London Eye shine simultaneously together tonight, they represent our continued support to help improve the lives of local young people leaving care across the UK.”Kate Shane, Divisional Director for Merlin Entertainments Blackpool Cluster
"As a former care leaver turned mentor myself, I know firsthand just how important having the right support and guidance in place for young people leaving care really is. It can be very daunting leaving care, with lots of young people struggling in various areas. The CLC and this new campaign aim to reach everyone who is at that time in their life when they are leaving care, letting them know they are fully supported and showing them that they have many opportunities in front of them. I am now in a position where I can help young people who have been in exactly the same position as me, and I want nothing more than to help shape their future. We are all capable of achieving everything we’ve ever dreamed of; sometimes, we just lack the right tools or encouragement to turn our dreams into reality, and this is where the CLC comes in”.Pandora Christie, Heart presenter, accredited mentor, former care leaver
For further information on the Care Leaver Covenant and details on how to sign up, visit www.mycovenant.org.uk/