Northumberland Care Leavers - Your Local Offer

If you are leaving care or have left already, Northumberland County Council are committed to supporting you leaving care. We aim to clearly set out your entitlements as part of our care leavers local offer and what you can expect from us in one place, helping you make the most of the services available to you. This Care Leaver Local Offer contains information about all the support and services that we have in Northumberland available to you as a care leaver.

If you are a young person leaving care in Northumberland, or have left already, we haven’t stopped caring about you. Northumberland County Council are committed to supporting young people leaving care through our care leavers local offer. This Care Leaver Local Offer contains information about all the support and services that we have in Northumberland available to you as a care leaver.

We have listened to what our care leavers have to say about what the council does for them, and what is important to them. The feedback they gave helped us create our local offer to care leavers. We will continue to listen to what they tell us, and will make sure the support we offer is the support they need.

Click here to view the Northumberland Care Leavers strategy.

Who qualifies for care leavers support?

To be able to get the support this core offer describes, you need to have been in care for at least thirteen weeks between ages 14 and 16 (including your 16th birthday) or for 13 weeks after your sixteenth birthday. If you are not sure whether you have been in care during these times, please ask your social worker.

Within Northumberland, we have a specialist 18+ Leaving Care team - this ensures the support you receive is relevant to you. You will be allocated a Leaving Care Support Worker who will help you in all areas of your life.

Legal Status 

Criteria 

Entitlements 

Eligible Care Leaver

You are aged 16 or 17 years 

You have been Looked After by Children's Services for a period of 13 weeks since the age of 14 

You are currently Looked After

A Leaving Care Support Worker / Social Worker 

A Needs Assessment 

A Pathway Plan

Relevant Care Leaver

You are aged 16 or 17 years 

You were Looked After by Children's Services for a period of 13 weeks since the age of 14 

You were looked after for a period of time after your 16th birthday 

You are no longer looked after

A Leaving Care Support Worker / Social Worker 

A needs Assessment 

A Pathway Plan 

Accommodation and Maintenance 

Financial support to meet your education training and employment needs 

Former Relevant Care Leaver

You are aged between 18 and 25 years  

You were previously an eligible child and/or relevant child

A Leaving Care Support Worker 

A needs Assessment 

A Pathway Plan 

Assistance with employment education and training 

Assistance with Accommodation 

Help with living costs 

Qualifying Care Leaver

You are aged between 16 and 25 

You were Looked After by children’s services on, or after, your 16th birthday and no longer looked after 

You spent less than 13 weeks in care since 14th birthday, i.e. do not fulfill criteria for eligible or relevant child

Advice and assistance from Children’s Services 


Our promise

Northumberland County Council has made some promises to all looked-after children and young people. This is called ‘Our Promise’. It outlines the help and support all looked-after children will get, and what they should expect. Please click here for more information on Our Promise.

Please click here for details on how to contact the Northumberland Care Leavers service.

Click here to read the looked after children and care leavers strategy 2019 - 2022
 

Contact Us

You can find out how to contact us by clicking here.

Your leaving care support worker is the person that young people leaving care have the most contact with. They will coordinate the help and support we agree with you in your Pathway Plan.

Practical support - various different items for different skills

Role of Leaving Care Support Worker

Northumberland will provide you with a Leaving Care Support Worker until you are 21. You can choose to keep seeing them until you are 25 however if you wish. You will be allocated a Leaving Care Support Worker when you reach 17 and a half years of age so that you can get to know them before you turn 18. You will continue to have your Social Worker up until you turn 18. Your Leaving Care Support Worker will support you with your transition into adulthood. 

They will do this by: 

  • Providing advice and support to you on a regular basis and acting as the key contact for your support, 
  • Participating in your Pathway Plan and ensuring it is being followed and reviewed at least every 6 months,
  • Co-ordinating the services available to you and take reasonable steps to support you to access these,
  • Remaining informed about your progress and wellbeing,
  • ​Providing housing options available to you when you leave care and beyond,
  • Supporting you with finding and maintaining further education, employment or training,
  • Ensuring your views are heard and that you feel listened to; ensuring this forms the basis of your Pathway Plan,
  • Advocating on your behalf and empowering you to make decisions to explore your potential,
  • Taking time to get to know you and building a positive relationship with you.
You will hear a lot about your pathway plan as you are leaving care. It is a plan created and used with you, to make sure you are supported as you navigate the pathway to adulthood and independence.

Creating your Pathway Plan

Your Leaving Care Support Worker will take the lead on creating it, but they will involve you all the way. They will ask for your input to ensure the plan meets your needs. 

Your Leaving Care Support Worker will make sure the Pathway Plan is reviewed regularly with you, to ensure it continues to meet your needs.
 
A great way to get your views heard as you develop the plan with your Leaving Care Support Worker, is through the 'Preparing for adulthood' section of Mind of My Own. Your Leaving Care Support Worker can help you set up an account.

Please click here to visit the Mind of My Own website.


Key features of the Pathway Plan

The Pathway Plan is:
  • unique to you,
  • explains how we will help you achieve the things you want,
  • created by you and the leaving care team while you are still in care, around your sixteenth birthday,
  • reviewed every six months so that is always up to date.
We will always involve you in preparing and reviewing your Pathway Plan.
Looking after your health when you leave care is very important to you and us.

Health and wellbeing - healthy objects and food
We will ensure that you have support in all aspects of your health, and we don’t just mean exercising and eating healthy foods - although this is still important.

When we talk about your health, we also mean:
  • how you feel about yourself,
  • managing your emotions,
  • mental health,
  • good sexual health.
We will do all we can to make sure you know where to go for the support you need to maintain a healthy lifestyle.

We will:
  • provide you with a health passport when you reach 18 years of age; this is a summary of your health information and contains useful information for services you may need,
  • support you to register with health services and GPs,
  • help you attend health appointments,
  • help you manage your emotional health - children and young people's mental health service provide support until you are 18 years old,
  • help you access adult mental health services - where appropriate - or provide information on other relevant organisations,
  • Offer you an Active Northumberland Card which gives you to discounted access to leisure facilities across Northumberland, please speak to your Leaving Care Support Worker for more information. 

Health and wellbeing services

Please click on the links below for more useful health and wellbeing information:
We understand that there are people who are important to you. We want to support you in re-establishing and maintaining these positive relationships, as long as this is in your best interests.

Relationships - hand holding around the world

We will:
  • give you the support you need to have contact with family and friends, including covering some travel costs where necessary if they live far away,
  • maintain a good relationship with you, ensuring face to face contact once a month as a minimum.
  • arrange meetings called Family Group Conferences which involve people who are important to you like family members and friends to talk about how everyone can work together to support you in the best way. 
 

Parent and child leaving care

If you’re a parent, we understand that the support you need is unique. We will work closely with other agencies to make sure you feel supported in providing the best life for both you and your child. 
We know you take your future seriously, and so do we at the council. That is why we will support you in whatever training or education you choose to take on. We will support you through an apprenticeship, work based training, college, or university. Your goals become our goals, and we want to help you achieve them.

Education, Employment & Training - Lightbulb built using idea bubbles

You should discuss your goals and ambitions with your leaving care worker. They can assist you in finding the right support, whether that is taster days with an employer, creating a great CV, or preparing for a job interview.

As well as support from your Leaving Care Support Worker you can access support from your careers advisor within the Virtual School. If you are aged between 16 and 17 we will help you with your Personal Education Plan which is found in the education section of your Pathway Plan.

We will:

  • support you to secure training opportunities, further and higher education, and employment. You will be supported by a specialist member of the careers guidance team,
  • work closely with educational providers to make sure you are supported to meet your aspirations,
  • aim to visit young people who study away,
  • have high aspirations for care leavers and encourage you to meet all of your ambitions, whatever they are.

The Virtual School  

Our careers advisers will work with you from year 9 to year 11 to ensure you have the information, advice and guidance needed to make positive transitions to the right post-16 courses for you, working closely with your school and social worker to plan for your future and achieve your ambitions. Your careers adviser will support you, as and when needed, until you are 21 or 25 if you choose to stay in contact longer. We work with education providers to make sure you have the support you need and with employers to ensure you have access to the best opportunities.  

Choices Together: We work with the North East Raising Aspirations Partnership to give you access to opportunities and support to enter Higher Education. 

Apprenticeships: We work with the Local Authority's apprenticeship team to make sure you are given priority for NCC apprenticeships and to promote the council's corporate parenting role. We work closely with other employers, such as Northumbria Health Care Trust and the Civil Service, to make sure you know about support and opportunities aimed at young people who have experience of being in care. We will keep you informed of opportunities that we think could help you reach your goals. 

Click here for more information on the virtual school.

Higher Education 

If you are in higher education you will receive a bursary of £2000 split into instalments across the duration of your course. As well as this we support you with accommodation costs and living expenses. You will be expected to claim your entitlement from Student Finance for tuition fees and there is also the option of taking out a maintenance loan. 

Lots of universities also offer bursaries to care leavers and this differs across each university, your Leaving Care Support Worker will help you to find out what you are entitled to at your chosen university.     

In Northumberland, there are a number of different options for you to consider when thinking about where to live - some with support, and some without. We want you to be involved in the process of deciding what type of accommodation suits you best, and where that should be. We will help you consider your needs and level of independent living skills.

Accommodation - various buildings

We will:
  • Ensure that your views are listened to and considered throughout the process
  • Help you find somewhere safe and suitable to live 
  • Support you within your foster placement after you reach 18 years of age on a Staying Put arrangement, if that is something you and your carers want. 
  • Provide you with practical support, such as helping you to move home and buy the basics you need to live comfortably
  • Understand that your needs change and support you through any problems that arise, even once you’re settled.

Staying Put

If you are currently living in foster care, there may be an option for you to remain with your foster carers after you turn 18 as a ‘staying put’ arrangement.  You will be supported to further develop your independent living skills and prepare for independent living.   

Where it is agreed that a staying put arrangement is the right option for you, and your foster carers are in agreement, you will be able to remain in placement until you are ready for independence or until you reach 21.    

A living together arrangement will be agreed between you and your foster carer and you will be supported to make a claim for universal credit, as you will need to pay rent when you live in a staying put arrangement. 

Semi-independent and Support Accommodation 

You can click here to view the supported accommodation options that young people can be supported to access.

Independent Living

When you are ready we will support you to access your own tenancy. This could be a council or housing association tenancy or even a privately rented property if appropriate.

We have a 'setting up home' allowance. This provides you with essential items for your home. For example, a washing machine, fridge, tv, tv license, a bed, carpets, blinds, cutlery, and more. Click here to read more about the setting up home allowance.

An application to Northumberland Homefinder is the easiest way to access your own tenancy and as a care leaver you will be entitled to priority banding once your application has been assessed and accepted. 

Living with family or friends

When you turn 18 you may decide to live with family or friends. If this is the case your Leaving Care Support Worker and social worker can support you with planning for this and make sure you have all the support you need to achieve this.


Council Tax 

As a Care Leaver you are exempt from paying council tax in Northumberland up until you turn 21. There is also an option for this to be extended until you turn 25 depending on your circumstances.

Your accommodation should be safe, secure, and right for you.


Resettlement Passport 

To help support you to develop your independent living skills, your Leaving Care Support Worker can help you access the resettlement passport.  The resettlement passport is a tenancy skills course designed to improve your skills and confidence when preparing for independent living and managing a tenancy of your own. 

The course is made up of 10 units, covering key areas to managing your own home. 

Care Leavers Accommodation & Support Protocol (CLASP) 

To help you prepare for independence, we can hold a CLASP meeting to look at the most suitable accommodation options for you.  Staff from the accommodation service can meet with you to discuss the options, support you to visit supported accommodation as well as help you to apply to Homefinder. 

We can also arrange a meeting with housing to explore your options around an independent accommodation. 

Practical support is available for young people leaving care in Northumberland. This can help you build life skills, including self-care, cooking, shopping, laundry, and budgeting.

Setting Up Home Allowance - various rooms in a house

We have a 'setting up home' allowance. This provides you with essential items for your home. For example, a washing machine, fridge, tv, tv license, a bed, carpets, blinds, cutlery, and more.

We also consider things such as pictures and soft furnishings to make your new accommodation feel more like home. Money will be provided for this, as long as you don't need this money for other things. 

We offer:

  • financial support,
  • help accessing benefits, jobs, and training,
  • support in budgeting for your future,
  • support with food shopping,
  • support with gas and electricity.

If you are living independently you can access support from the Accommodation Team and your Leaving Care Support Worker to help you manage your tenancy. 

We want you to have all the chances in life that other young adults have. Throughout your time with leaving care, we will encourage you to develop your interests and get involved in positive activities.

Participation in Society - image of various different people

People can participate in their community and society in different ways. Some people want to participate more than others. We will do our best to find opportunities for you to participate in something that interests you. If you can't think of an interest you currently have, we will help to develop your interests.
 

Voice Making Choices (VMC)

We value your views and opinions. Voices Making Choices Care Leavers Group is Northumberland’s Children in Care Council. We encourage you to get involved with VMC as a way of participating in society. Your unique perspective as a care leaver helps shape the service and care you receive.
Please click here to find out more about the Voices Making Choices care council.
 

Mind of My Own

The Mind Of My Own (MOMO) app is a great way of making sure your voice and opinion are heard, by the people you want to listen.
Please click here to find out more and set up your Mind Of My Own account.
 

Giving feedback on the service you receive

We encourage care leavers to give feedback on the service you receive through our feedback form. You can click here to access the feedback form.


Other ways to be involved

We can help you by: 

  • Recognising and celebrating your achievements in the Annual Celebration of Achievements Awards, 
  • Supporting you to attend the Corporate Parenting Panel so senior leaders can hear direct feedback about services from a care leaver, 
  • Giving you information about clubs/groups you may wish to join, 
  • Providing opportunities to be involved in staff recruitment. 
Young people leaving care in Northumberland have certain rights set out in relevant laws. We will support you with these rights, always listen to you, and take your views seriously.

We feel it is important that you are able to understand these rights and how they affect you. Your leaving care support worker is a great place to start if you have any questions about specific rights for care leavers.

Your rights and how we can help

PLEASE NOTE: we recommend that you involve your support worker to help you access your files. This process can be difficult and emotionally challenging for some young people.

You can challenge the care and support you have received from Northumberland County Council. Our participation and advocacy services can help you if this is the case. Please click here to visit the Young People’s Participation Homepage.

We will make sure you can let us know how you feel about the services and support you receive. You can use some of ways we have mentioned in the participation in society section of the offer.
Young people leaving care will need various documents and forms of identification to do certain things, such as: applying for housing, applying to college, claiming benefits, and opening a bank account.

Important Documents

To make sure you have everything you need, if you have not already recieved these whilst in care, we will support you in getting the following:
  • your national insurance (NI) number
  • your first passport
  • your birth certificate
  • a provisional driving licence if you need this for employment, education, or training.
  • bank account 
  • saving fund 
We are happy to keep copies of these documents and keep them safe for you. However, at certain times you will need the original documents. For example, when you set up a bank account.

Once we have given you your documents, it is your responsibility to keep them safe. If you lose them, you will have to pay for replacements. If you don’t have a safe place to store your documents, speak to your Leaving Care Support Worker and we will look after them for you.
The Care Leavers Covenant is a promise made by Northumberland to provide support for care leavers aged 16-25 to help you to live independently.  The aim is to provide additional support over and above what the law tells us to do. 

There are five aspects to Northumberland’s Care Leavers’ Covenant:  

  1. Care leavers are better prepared and supported to live independently,  
  2. Care leavers have improved access to education, employment and training,  
  3. Care leavers experience stability in their lives and feel safe and secure,  
  4. Care leavers have improved access to health and emotional support,  
  5. Care leavers achieve financial stability.  

A Care Leavers' app is under development to provide a Gateway to information, guidance and opportunities in all 5 areas specific to Northumberland's young people.  For further information just contact the ESLAC (education support for looked after children) team: 01670 622779,  
Email: eslac.info@northumberland.gov.uk 

You can contact us about the leaving care service or Care Leavers Local Offer by using the following contact details:

Northumberland Adolescent Services - Leaving Care Team: 

Advocacy team: