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Rebecca Ferguson together with leading figures from the public and private sectors in Liverpool have joined forces to create a new charity to help the 1,000-plus youngsters in the city who are in care.
The Cornerstones Foundation, which is being launched this week, aims to support young people in care from primary school age through to adulthood, when individuals are leaving care.
It is developing a programme of activities, experiences and opportunities to nurture skills development, reward achievement and support care-leavers into training and work.
A key part of the programme will be to link local businesses and youth service providers to deliver employment, mentoring and training for young people.
There are currently some 1,250 children in local authority care in Liverpool and some 4,000 young people who are described as being ‘on the edge of care’.
Looked after children are four times more likely to suffer mental health difficulties and more than a third (34%) of care leavers are not in education, employment or training, compared to a UK average of 15%.
The new charity is chaired by Iain Goldrein QC and its trustees include Liverpool College Principal Hans Broekman, Paul Flanagan of the Flanagan Group, Liverpool City Council Director of Children’s Services Steve Reddy, Hilton Hotel Manager Marcus McGee and Rebecca Ross-Williams, Engagement Director at the Everyman and Playhouse.
Mr Goldrein said: “We want to galvanise the business and wider community to ensure we are doing everything we can to give these young people the best chance of succeeding in life and finding personal fulfilment and happiness.
“We fundamentally believe in the potential of every child and passionately believe they should be able to access the same skills, learning and employment opportunities of those who are not in care.
“We also believe the city’s employers and its business community have a major role to play. If just a fraction of the 17,000 businesses in Liverpool were able to offer some support we would transform the prospects of these young people.
“I would urge every employer in the city, no matter how big or small they are, to get in touch with us and offer their support, either through actively engaging in one of our schemes or by donating money.”
The charity is to have its official launch at the Hilton Hotel on Friday (November 16) when some 300 guests will gather and hear from a range of speakers, including some young people who have recently emerged from care.
Rebecca Ross-Williams, Engagement Director at the Everyman and Playhouse, said: “Our focus is on helping individuals but we are very conscious of the wider impacts that a lack of support can have.
“Almost a quarter (24%) of the UK’s adult prison population has been in care and less than one in 10 (6%) of care leavers ever go to university. It’s a waste of money and a waste of potential. More importantly, it’s a waste of young lives.
“We’re determined to break that pattern here in Liverpool and believe the city’s famously generous character and sense of fairness will give us every opportunity to do just that.”
Cornerstones will be working closely with a number of organisations to deliver activities, including Liverpool Charity and Voluntary Services (LCVS) and the city council’s Children’s Services department.
Mayor Joe Anderson said: “We’re delighted to be backing this new approach because we think the city’s businesses and employers can make a massive difference to the prospects of young people in care. These are some of the most vulnerable people in society but they have the same potential as every one of us and deserve the same opportunities as the rest of us.”
One of the initiatives Cornerstones will be supporting is a World of Work scheme that matches children to businesses for workplace visits, work experience, mentoring and training.
It will also be delivering the Young People’s Award, a reward and recognition scheme for children of primary school age who are in care. It aims to help build self-esteem, confidence and a range of inter-personal skills.
Business interested in getting involved in the Cornerstones Foundation should contact[email protected]
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