Stand Side by Side with Care Leavers this Christmas

Christmas is often a difficult time for many people, but it can be especially challenging for young care leavers.

Loneliness, isolation and financial hardship can be experienced by young people leaving care all year round, but the festive season brings extra anxiety and pressure.

“If I had parents to go to, I would ask them for help.But I don’t have anyone to turn to.” – Young Care Leaver

Reminders of happy family get-togethers and “must-have” gifts can be difficult to face when a young person’s reality doesn’t match the perfect Christmas card image.

Donate to Care At Christmas

Unlike many young people who can rely on love and support from their family long after their teens, care leavers are expected to become fully independent once they turn 18. While most of us can turn to family and friends for support during the festive season, these social networks are not always available to those leaving the care system. Care leavers are often left to cope alone before they are ready.

In 2022, approximately 10,000 young people will leave the care system and transition to the next stage of their lives: living wholly independently for the first time. Unfortunately, many of these young people will leave care without strong family ties or reliable friendship networks due to multiple relocations.

“It’s not easy and most of us
including myself feel that we aren’t ready for this, but it was too late. So now I know from personal experience how easy it is to get in debt with your bills.” – Care Leaver

In England, 25% of the homeless population are care-experienced. Without strong support when they leave the care system, care leavers can struggle to access the opportunities they need to lead successful careers, and to reach their full potential.

With your support, we can make sure that young people get the help they need to overcome loneliness and isolation this Christmas.



Give the Gift of Friendship this Festive Season

This Christmas, NYAS are asking you to help us support young care leavers as we approach the New Year.

Our mentoring programme Side by Side matches young care leavers with a local volunteer who will be there for them to provide advice and guidance when extra support is needed.

Together, our volunteer and their young care leaver will work to build trust, learn important skills for independence, and help tackle the loneliness that young people face when they leave care.

Our volunteers can support young people with a range of factors once they leave care. From understanding bills and managing finances to helping young people enrol onto higher education courses, or prep for a job interview.

Our Volunteers stand Side by Side with young people leaving care all year round. Support them this Christmas to fill young people’s lives with love, joy and security in the new year.

“Who can say how hard it must be to be growing up in care? I’m so glad that NYAS can be a support for young people that have grown up in such circumstances.” – Nina, NYAS Supporter



Your donations will help vulnerable young care leavers to access whatever support they need in 2022. Whether they’re looking for access to the internet, support with their CV, or just need a friend, take a moment to Care At Christmas, and help young care leavers have a new year that truly is happy.

Donate to Care At Christmas


“Side by Side means having the right support and someone that’s always there for you.” – Young Person


Martyn’s Story

NYAS’ Side by Side Care Leaver Programme changes young lives, and most of this is thanks to our wonderful volunteers. Martyn, one of our Side by Side volunteer mentors, has been working with young care leaver Samal for just over 8 months. This is their story:

“When Samal fled his home country of Iraq two years ago on his bicycle, he was determined to make a safer life for himself. Arriving in the UK, he was given “looked after” status, and has lived ever since in asylum seekers’ accommodation, while working on his Right to Remain application.

I was glad to meet Samal as part of NYAS’ Side by Side mentoring project, which matches young people leaving care with a volunteer mentor from their local community. NYAS let Samal choose his volunteer, and Samal chose me. I didn’t know what to expect, as I knew Samal didn’t speak much English, and I didn’t speak much Sorani. So, when I first met Samal, we used translation software on our phones, body language and gestures to get to know one another.

One thing Samal wanted to focus on was the development of his English Language skills. We regularly meet up to walk in the park and swap words and phrases. When I began working with Side by Side, I never thought I would learn so much Sorani, and I have been proud to see Samal come on leaps and bounds with his English.

Samal is now 19 years old, and a patient, grateful young man. We’ve been meeting together for more than 8 months now, and the progress he has made has been phenomenal. One of the biggest things I could help Samal with was progressing his Right to Remain application, and helping him to understand the complexities of the system. I’m really proud to tell you that Samal has just recently received his Right to Remain, and as soon as he told me, we made arrangements to meet up and celebrate that weekend.

The sense of relief was enormous for Samal, and he is now planning the rest of his life, moving into a flat of his own, and has asked for my help in getting a job, and full citizenship. I’m really excited to continue supporting Samal at such a pivotal time in his life, and helping him plan the rest of his life in the UK.”

Samal has been able to receive support from Martyn and the wider NYAS team, because of people like you. There are many more young people like Samal facing the rest of their lives with no friends or family to fall back on. With your help, NYAS will be able to support more young people like Samal in the New Year.

Support a Care Leaver This Christmas

Side by Side with Santa

Go the extra mile this festive season, and support young care leavers with our Christmas fundraising challenge.

To raise awareness of the 10,000 young people who age out of the care system every year, NYAS are encouraging you to walk Side by Side With Santa this winter.

You can choose whether to celebrate the 12 days of Christmas with 10,000 steps across a 12 day period in December, or challenge yourself to the full Christmas Countdown and walk 10,000 steps for 24 days in December. Whatever time from you choose, you’ll be collecting sponsorship from friends and family, and help us raise awareness of the 10,000 young people that will leave care in 2022.

You can walk, run, jog, or skip your 10,000 steps – whatever you prefer! This challenge can be completed in the brisk outdoors, or by completing laps of your living room.

All of the money raised through your steps challenge will go towards NYAS’ Side by Side programme to support care leavers. We’ll be on hand to support you every step of the way throughout December.

Sign up for this challenge, and download your sponsorship form below.


How can I track my steps?
Most smartphones have step counters built in, but you could also track your steps with your Smart Watch, Fitbit, or free apps like Map my Walk.
What should be fundraising target be?
Ultimately this is up to you, but we recommend setting a minimum target of £150. If you’re feeling ambitious, you can set a higher target. Don’t forget that you don’t need to stop collecting donations once you hit your target, so feel free to reach for the stars!
How should I collect my sponsorship?
We recommend using a Just Giving page. For help setting up a Just Giving Page please click here.

You could also collect sponsorship on Facebook. To do this go to the menu on the app, scroll down (you might need to press ‘see more’), choose ‘Fundraisers’ and follow their step by step guide!

We also have sponsorship forms available (great for sticking to the office fridge and collecting donations), to download one please click here. When you are finished collecting your donations, let our fundraising team know and we will share details of how to pay these in.

Can I do this challenge in a different month?
Of course! We’re so grateful to have your support and will be here to support you whenever you choose to fundraise. Just choose your month and let our fundraising team know so we can support you throughout your challenge.

Sponsorship Form

Sign Up for Side by Side with Santa

Still have questions? You can email the team at fundraising@nyas.net or call us on 0151 649 8700.



Festive Fundraising Ideas

Don’t fancy tracking your steps? We have a whole range of festive fundraising tips if you’re looking for a way to raise money in support of our Christmas campaign this year.

Release your inner Mary Berry with a festive bake sale in your office, or host a Christmas jumper day in support of young care leavers. You can find our full list of suggestions in our Festive Fundraising Ideas blog.

Read our Festive Fundraising Ideas

Stay in the Loop

If you’re looking to stay up to date with the latest #CareAtChristmas news, then make sure you’ve signed up to the NYAS newsletter.

You can also follow along with the campaign across Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn, where you can get involved with the conversation.

Still have questions? You can email the team at fundraising@nyas.net or call us on 0151 649 8700.