Every year 10,000 young people leave care and many are thrust into the adult world before they are ready, facing a life without the support of family and friends that so many of us take for granted.

Young people tell us they’re missing the skills and trusted people they need to help them navigate this new chapter in their lives.  Some lack a positive adult role model, while others struggle to access education, employment, health services, or to maintain financial security.

Every young person in care and leaving care should expect to receive the very best care alongside the support and love they need to thrive. The impact of having been in care does not end at 18, 21 or even 25. It is a continuous lifetime experience that can have lasting effects.

To tackle the issue, we have created “Side by Side” a programme which will help young people to bridge the gap between leaving care and finding their own way in the world, providing a broad range of support and mentoring.

The support on offer to young people taking part in the scheme will include access to a dedicated Side by Side volunteer to support them for a minimum of 12 months; up to 10 hours of advocacy support, if required, from a NYAS qualified and independent advocate and access to the NYAS freephone helpline in the evenings and weekends for support and/or signposting.

They will also receive a Side by Side care leavers information pack with useful key contacts and practical advice, along with a job interview guarantee and opportunities to undertake modern apprenticeships, work ‘shadowing’ or short-term work placements. Assistance will also be given with job applications, C.V. preparation, interviewing skills and filling in official forms (housing, benefits, university, college etc.)

Each young person will also be offered the chance to undergo NYAS mentoring training, free of charge, enabling them to become ‘peer mentors’ for other young people joining the programme.

Side by Side will be piloted with three local authorities during 2020, and up to 30 young people will benefit.

The programme has been informed by the NYAS Care Leavers Forum – a group of care experienced young people who are working with NYAS to help improve the experience of care leavers in the UK.

Pledge to support Side by Side

For every young care leaver we support, we need to raise £3,600 in voluntary donations, every year.

NYAS is now seeking to engage with supporters, funders and volunteers to help deliver Side by Side.

To show your support please donate online

Alternatively, you can now donate via text. Please text ‘SIDEBYSIDE’ to 70085 with the amount you wish to donate, you can opt to give any whole amount up to £20. eg. to donate £10 text SIDEBYSIDE10.

This will cost £10 plus a standard rate message.

We want every young person who leaves care to have the opportunity to thrive and be offered the same life chances as their peers to fulfil their full potential.

For further information about how you can help please email sidebyside@nyas.net