Minister for Loneliness, Stuart Andrew, visiting Onwards and Upwards
The Minister for Loneliness, Stuart Andrew, visited Barnet's Care Leavers Hub on Thursday, 18 January, to gain insight into the pivotal role the hub plays in supporting care leavers to build and maintain social connections.
During the visit to Onwards and Upwards on Woodhouse Road, North Finchley, the Minister met with care leavers and people who support them. He discussed their experiences and the challenges they face regarding social connections and loneliness.
Barnet Council currently provides “service for life” support to 325 care-experienced young people through its Local Offer and its dedicated Onwards and Upwards hub.
Its care leavers are supported to follow their dreams and ambitions. Some are at university, others in employment or apprenticeships whilst those with additional needs or disabilities are supported to access any gaps in learning via our virtual school.
Some inspiring outcomes for our young people was recently presented to our corporate parenting panel.
The Onward and Upwards Hub helps care leavers with many life skills from money management and budgeting skills support to preparation for independent living and it also holds celebration events throughout the year.
Councillor Pauline Coakley Webb, Cabinet Member for Family Friendly Barnet, said:
“We recognise that people who grow up in or spend time in care face discrimination and disadvantage that impacts them throughout their lives, which is why we treat care experience as a protected characteristic.
“I am very proud of the work that is done in Barnet by our very hard-working teams to support our incredible looked-after children and care leavers. Our care leavers hub is a key resource for how we can support care leavers and prepare them for their futures.”
In addition to the Care Leavers Hub, Barnet Council established its own charity, Live Unlimited, which was set up in February 2018 to provide support for looked after children and care leavers beyond what the council can offer as part of its legal duties and responsibilities.
Minister for Loneliness Stuart Andrew said:
“Today's visit to Onwards and Upwards was a great opportunity to see how care leavers are supported to establish and maintain social connections, helping them avoid the negative effects loneliness can have.
"I was particularly impressed by the personal approach the hub took to supporting care leavers, helping them develop the skills and confidence to take their next steps.
"Tackling loneliness amongst children in care and care leavers is a key focus of mine, and I will soon be meeting with ministers from across government to discuss what more can be done."
More info on what is offered for Care Leavers in Barnet is available: 023653 BC3783 Barnet Care Leavers A4 2023 WEB.pdf