On Tuesday 17 October, Kingston Council became the 61st council to pass a motion to treat care experience as a protected characteristic. This historic success was led by NYAS’ Campaigns Advisory Group (CAG) member, Sunny Purvis, and NYAS trustee Terry Galloway, with the motion passed unanimously following debate.
Sunny, alongside Terry Galloway, proudly shared their own experiences growing up in the care system and how this motion would change the lives of care-experiences people both in Kingston, around the country. Terry has been leading a campaign for councils to treat care experience as a protected characteristic at a local level. When a council passes this motion, it ensures all care-experienced people in the area have lifelong protection against discrimination and public bodies, institutions and organisations must consider the needs of care-experienced people when making policy decisions.
The Independent Review of Children’s Social Care in England recommended to the UK Government that care experience should be made a protected characteristic under the Equality Act 2010, to protected care-experienced individuals against discrimination. NYAS stood in support of this recommendation as the legislative change would have been “all-encompassing”, protecting all individuals with care experience.
The UK Government rejected this recommendation, instead committing to the extension of corporate parenting principles. Whilst NYAS supports this extension, we remain committed to the position that care experience should still be made a protected characteristic.
NYAS CAG member, Sunny, told Kingston councilors last night that she had lived in over 30 different homes during her childhood. She went on to recall being unfairly treated by professionals throughout her life, having her belongings moved in binbags, and facing homelessness at the age of 18, which she believes may not have happened if care-experience was made a protected characteristic. Sunny ended with a clear message to the council:
“We did not ask to be in care. It wasn’t a choice. We should not have to suffer more because of something we did not choose… We want care experience to become a protected characteristic - it would change our lives for better. I hope my story means something this time.”
Sunny Purvis, NYAS Campaigns Advisory Group Member
After hearing the powerful speeches of both Terry and Sunny, the council unanimously voted in favour of treating care experience as a protected characteristic in Kingston. NYAS is proud to have supported this success and continues to stand in full support of this campaign.
Reflecting on the night, Sunny shared that, “I feel moved at some of the councillors’ speeches and I’m glad to bring more awareness to care experience and see some positive changes happening. Hopefully other councils will pass these motions as well - Kingston is the 61st council to pass, who will be number 62?”
To find out more about the ongoing campaign to treat care experience as a protected characteristic, please visit the Care Leaver Offer website.