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; access to the NYAS freephone helpline in the evenings and weekends for support and/or signposting and access to a skills and interests bursary up to the value of £500.

The programme will support care leavers to feel positive, become independent and to have the additional support from an independent mentor/volunteer.  Young people will develop their life skills whilst we support them to feel more confident and to have aspirations, whilst working in partnerships with existing support networks and the local community.

The Side by Side project will make available a skills and interest bursary of up to £500. The bursary will support young people to purchase equipment and resources that may be required to take up new exciting hobbies and interests or to achieve their goals in education to employment.

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

Care leavers are talented, resourceful and skilled young people. They are aspirational, they want more, they want to do well, and to belong. We want for them what we would want for our own children.

For further information about Side by Side please email sidebyside@nyas.net