Celebration for care leavers achievements in the Highlands Supporting Care Leavers Week 2014
Issued by Barnardo’s Scotland
The Highland Council and its partners, including: Children’s charity Barnardo’s Scotland, Who Cares? Scotland, Calman Trust, New Start and Columba 1400 celebrated the achievements of young people who are in care in the Highlands as part of Care Leavers Week 2014.
Around 40 young people from across the Highlands – Caithness, Sutherland, Ross-shire, Tain - Inverness, Dingwall, Invergordon, Aviemore and Fort William, attended the event.
The celebration held in the Town House, Inverness on 22 October, was a joint event run by the charity and Highland Council to celebrate the achievements of young people in the Highlands who are care leavers and still in placements. The Theme of the evening was “Believe in your success” the event highlighted and celebrated the support and opportunities the young people have taken through Activity Agreements, college and university placements and housing, to believe in their own skills and to continue with this positive attitude into the future.
Chair of the Education, Children & Adult Services Committee, Alasdair Christie, said: “This is a tremendous opportunity to mark the success of these young people, and of Highland’s looked after children. Many of these young people have faced great adversity in their lives, but they have all done extremely well and have achieved success, and we take great pride in what they have accomplished."
Also present at the celebrations were Martin Crewe, Director of Barnardo’s Scotland, Duncan Dunlop, Director Who Cares? Scotland, Children's Champion Linda Munro who accompanies young people to events and consults with them on how The Highland Council can improve services for young people, and of course young people who are supported by the charity and Highland Council.
The celebration marks the start of a series of events for care leavers during Care Leavers Week which runs from 23 to 31 October; the theme of this year’s National Care Leavers’ Week is ‘keep dreaming’.
Former care leaver, Jasmin Pilling (23) from Fort William spoke at the event, explaining to the young people how, through support from Barnardo’s Scotland and Highland Council, she achieved her dream. Jasmin said: “I wanted to let young people, care leavers, know that there are options for them once they leave care, they have a chance of a future.
“I have a degree, a baby and a job; I’ve achieved everything I dreamed of getting, so far. Through my job as a Pathway co-ordinator with MCR, I help mentors engage with young care leavers in schools, showing them that there are support mechanisms to help them to identify options and make the right and informed decision. I’m proof that with the right support you can achieve your dream.”
Barnardo’s Scotland runs a number of services in the Highlands in partnership with Highland Council who play a key role in supporting young people leaving care, offering support and guidance to attend college or university, accessing employment and the labour market and access to housing - supported financially with accommodation up to the age of 24.
Director of Barnardo’s Scotland, Martin Crewe, said: “I am delighted to take part in this evening's celebration. It is an inspirational reminder of the resilience that young people can demonstrate whatever they have been through. The achievements of these young people should remind us of the enormous potential waiting to be tapped into. I feel very proud of each and every one of these young people who have been supported by Barnardo's Scotland and The Highland Council.”
Recent campaigning on behalf of care leavers by Barnardo’s Scotland and Who Cares? Scotland saw the most significant changes to support for care leavers in a generation. The changes come in the form of amendments to the Children and Young People Act, the proposed measures will allow young people to stay in care up to the age of 21, and receive much greater support when they leave care to the age of 26.
It is estimated that across Scotland this increased support will benefit between 1,300 and 2,400 young care leavers. Highland Council are planning well in advance for the increase numbers of young people who will be eligible to receive support to the age of 26 with the new legislation, which will come into effect from April 2015.
Barnardo’s Scotland services are run in partnership with Highland Council, and provide a range of quality services, throughout the Highlands, to young people aged from 16 years which include leaving care, residential care, employment, young parents and early years support . The charity would like to take this opportunity to thank Highland Council for their continuing support and everyone who contributed to making the night so successful, especially to the young people who have already succeeded against the odds and who should keep on dreaming to achieve their goals.