Launch of new project that gives hope to young people leaving care

Posted on: 24 November 2023

Next week (29 November) sees the official launch of a new project that supports young people leaving care in West Yorkshire to take on roles in the health and care sector.

“Project Hope,” which has been developed by the West Yorkshire Health and Care Partnership (WY HCP), supports young people aged 16-25 who have left or are leaving care to find employment and help them develop the skills and experience they need for careers in the sector. It has been jointly developed with health and care organisations from across West Yorkshire and with young people themselves to make sure it meets their needs.

The West Yorkshire scheme includes paid placements across the health and care partnership,  involvement with events such as care leavers jobs fairs, support with education and training employment skills. pastoral support that is trauma informed, as well as subsidised travel and discounted activities.

Guest speaker at the launch event in Leeds will be former javelin world champion, Olympic medalist and contestant on “I’m a Celebrity,” Fatima Whitbread. Fatima, who spent her first 14 years in a variety of care homes, is an Action for Children Ambassador and a passionate advocate for care experienced people. Through her ‘Fatima’s UK Campaign’ she is helping to bring positive change and making a difference so that children can fulfil their potential in environments that foster self-worth and confidence.

A key supporter of Project Hope, the keynote address will be delivered by West Yorkshire Mayor Tracy Brabin, who is responsible for the region’s wider adult skills offer. The Mayor ensures young people have access to training, signposts them to the project and provides free travel to those on placements.

Also speaking will be Paul Speight, Managing Director for Colleague Operations with Lloyds Banking Group. Paul will be sharing his personal insights of care and discussing how we can leverage large scale organisations to support social issues.

Among those attending will be representatives from partner organisations including West Yorkshire local authorities; NHS Trusts; the voluntary, community and social enterprise  (VCSE) sector; NHS England; Spectra; and the Prince’s Trust. Also attending will be Dave Linton CEO of Madlug, whose social enterprise scheme advocates for children in care. Their ‘Buy One, Wear One, Help One’ model means Madlug provides luggage to a child in care every time a Madlug purchase is made, helping to ensure that no child has to carry their life in a bin bag.

Sayma Mirza, Associate Director for Children, Young People and Families for the West Yorkshire Integrated Care Board, said: “We’re really looking forward to welcoming colleagues to West Yorkshire to mark the official launch of Project Hope and to shine a spotlight on this important agenda.

“It has been heartening to see the immense support the Project Hope initiative has received and we would like to thank everyone for their commitment to helping young people have hope for a better future. Crucially, the launch means that 25 young people will soon be starting on a journey that could change their lives for the better.”

Tim Ryley, Place Lead for NHS West Yorkshire Integrated Care Board (Leeds) and joint Senior Responsible Officer for the WY HCP Young People, Children and Families Programme said: “We know that young people who have experience of the care system are much more likely to face isolation, physical ill health and poor mental health than other people their age. They are also significantly more at risk of becoming homeless, being in the criminal justice system, and of dying young.

“Project Hope helps address those inequalities and I’m delighted that our Partnership has embraced this opportunity to make a real difference to the lives of care experienced young people and to address inequalities in health outcomes, experiences and access by enhancing career development opportunities.”

Jenny Lingrell, Service Director for Children in the Wakefield Health and Care Partnership and also joint Senior Responsible Officer for the WY HCP Young People, Children and Families Programme, added: “NHS, local authority and third sector partners across West Yorkshire are already doing a great deal of work to improve outcomes for these young people and to tackle the inequalities they face.

“Project Hope adds another dimension to this work. By supporting young people to find employment in health and care roles, the project will help them develop skills and experience, build networks and connections, gain financial stability and enable them to make a real difference to others. All of these factors are hugely important for people’s physical and mental wellbeing and for their long-term health outcomes.”


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