People who have gone through the care system will now have extra support – thanks to a historic move by a Cumbrian authority.
Cumberland Council – the new authority for Carlisle, Allerdale and Copeland has unanimously agreed to make residents’ experience of the care system a protected characteristic, ensuring it is no barrier to a happy future.
Cumberland Council is set to take over in the area from the existing city, county and borough councils on April 1.
Councillors are currently meeting as a shadow authority until this date, briefly operating alongside the existing councils until preparations are complete.
And in a historic moment for the authority, cross party support was given to a motion from children and families portfolio holder Emma Williamson.
Accepting Cllr Williamson’s proposal to break barriers for care leavers, the council become the first in the UK to introduce the policy.
Cllr Williamson said: “I’ve been privy to a wealth of officer briefings on services that currently exist and when we become responsible for those services on April 1, I’d like them to already start to reflect some of our priorities.
“And this is one of mine, the enshrining of protected rights for care leavers. Cumbria County Council already has a care leavers core offer and I’ll be making it my mission as the portfolio holder to ensure that offer comes through this transition so we can build on the support networks we already have in place.
“It is vital that we design and deliver services for our care experienced young people with five key missions: they’re provided with loving relationships, quality education, a decent home, fulfilling work and good health as the foundations of a good life.”
Cllr Williamson’s proposal was met with cross-party support and impassioned speeches on why the support is vitally needed.
Fellow member of the Labour leadership Elaine Lynch repeated the words of a care leaver who said: “It’s like the system has already pre-determined our future before we’ve had chance to have a say.”
Deputy leader of the Liberal Democrat group, Cllr Roger Dobson said: “We support this motion and we also encourage our fellow councillors to support the motion.
Green Party councillor Helen Davison said that the motion will help service providers to understand that “when someone is even struggling to engage with a service, maybe it’s about something that’s gone on in their childhood.”
The national review of children’s services was led by Cumbrian Josh MacAlister, who attended the meeting.