In August 2023, Merlin Entertainments announced that it had become the latest signatory of the UK Care Leaver Covenant.
The Care Leaver Covenant is a national inclusion programme designed to support care leavers aged 16-25 to live independently. The Covenant is made up of private, public, and voluntary sectors who have made various pledges of support which aim to provide additional support for those leaving the UK’s care system. The support and expertise offered by the businesses include practical things such as free data for mobiles or laptops, through to wider mentoring or jobs creation, and are all additional to the statutory support provided by local authorities.
To demonstrate full support for the programme, Merlin have created a dedicated programme for the Care Leaver Covenant entitled ‘Merlin Illuminate’ which includes pledges such as:
Chief Operating Officer for Resort Theme Parks and Midways for Merlin Entertainments, Fiona Eastwood, said: “Merlin’s mission is always to create magical memories and moments of joy for families and children with a real focus on our local communities. We want to ensure that as a company we are shining a light on these young care leavers, aged 16-25, who may not have a support network. Our ‘Merlin Illuminate’ programme is designed to offer advice, knowledge, and help provide practical routes to employment. Even if they aren’t successful straight away, we are committed to offering individuals a day out with a friend at one of our attractions to experience the Merlin magic. If we can offer a ray of light, in what can sometimes be a dark moment, then we’ll be fulfilling our overall objective.”
Cross-Government Care Leaver Lead, Johnny Mercer MP who helped launch the campaign added: “It’s fantastic to have Merlin on board with the Care Leavers Covenant, joining the hundreds of other signatories that have committed to support this vulnerable cohort of young people. Today’s launch of Merlin Illuminate is another example of brilliant work that is being undertaken across the country to ensure that care leavers have the right support in place to access employment opportunities."
Divisional Director for Merlin’s Blackpool Cluster, Kate Shane, who has spearheaded the programme at Merlin added: “Despite being the UK’s favourite seaside resort, Blackpool has one of the highest rates of deprivation in the UK. I’ve seen first-hand just how challenging things can get for local young people, especially for those that have recently left the care system and may sometimes feel like they are alone. At Merlin we are a family, and we wanted to do something with this programme that not only provides practical tips and advice for employment, but also offer some form of reassurance that those care leavers aren’t alone and have support. Working with Blackpool Council – which has a comprehensive Care Leaver Offer – including a dedicated Employment Advisor for those leaving care – we will help identify opportunities for these young people. Merlin Illuminate shines a light on both the system - which many might not be aware of - and how companies like ours can really make a difference.”
Matthew Gordon, CEO Spectra, delivery partner for the Care Leaver Covenant. “We are delighted to have Merlin Entertainments signing the Care Leaver Covenant and launching an incredible support offer for our young people. Since the Covenant launched, it has been important to recognise our young people as whole people, who want to do meaningful work, who want safe and warm homes, and who want to access popular culture and entertainment like their peers. The Merlin Entertainments offer really speaks to this approach and demonstrates that Merlin are keen to use their expertise and resources to support our young people as they become independent adults. We look forward to collaborating with the Merlin team across the country over the next few months.”