The real lives behind our Chance to Stay - Cyfle i Aros campaign

Posted by Rhea Stevens / Thursday 12 December 2013 / Chance to stay Children in care
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Last week we launched our new campaign to ask the Welsh Government to make sure young people in foster care can stay until they are at least 21. It's called Chance to StayCyfle i Aros in Welsh.

I'm having positive conversations with loads of people about the campaign, but I'll only see the campaign as a success when the lives of real young people in care change for the better.

People have been moved to action by the stories of young people, care leavers and foster carers about why this seemingly simple change matters so much to them.

Though the campaign has been live for just over a week, we’ve been working really hard for months as a campaign planning group of young people, care leavers, foster carers and staff.

It is a privilege to be able to work alongside the people most affected by this issue. They constantly push the group to be braver and bolder in demanding change and justice.

Lots of the comments I've received have been shock and surprise at the reality of young people in care’s situation at present. The average age of leaving home in the UK is 24, but young people in care leave as young as 16.

Young people leaving care do not get a fair shot at life. The trauma and upheaval these young people have faced already in life mean they are just not as equipped as others to deal with the realities of independence.

The reality for these young people is devastating. They are lonely, frightened and don’t have anyone familiar or trusted they can turn to. The statistics paint a bleak picture, but one 16 year old campaigner described her desperation in real terms:

It is unacceptable that any young person feels prison is their best means of accessing the support they need.

Young people leaving care are facing adult problems that they’re not able to manage. The current system sets them up to fail by not giving these young people the support they need to develop the skills for independence at a pace that’s right for them.

The youngest member of our campaign group is just 8 years old. He came up with the name “Chance to Stay – Cyfle i Aros”. He told us “it just makes sense, if you have a chance to stay with your foster family you’ve got a better chance at being able to do the things you need to do when you have good people around you”.

Children in care worry about what the future holds from a really young age, as young as 8. They know that under the current system they won’t get the same chances as their friends.

We have a unique opportunity to do something about this in Wales but we need your help.

Please contact your Assembly Member and ask for their support. We want the Welsh Government to use the forthcoming Social Services and Well-being (Wales) Bill, to make sure that local authorities allow young people to stay with their foster carers until they are at least 21.

Your support really will help us create the political pressure needed to give these young people, and many others like them across Wales, a fair chance.

You can also read more about the campaign to extend the age of leaving foster care in Wales including our research evidence.

Join the conversation.

Find out how you can become a campaigner, stay up to date with our latest tweets and join in the discussion on our blog.