In a drive to address inequalities and levelling up across the region, Greater Manchester’s leaders, private and public sector and young person’s charities have worked together with the Greater Manchester care leaver’s network to design a comprehensive package of support including access to free data connectivity for 12 months, devices and free digital skills training to support care leavers to build their skills and confidence online and benefit from opportunities to thrive.
Why target care leavers?
Greater Manchester Combined Authority estimates there are 4,200 care leavers up to the age of 25 across Greater Manchester and all are believed to be digitally excluded in some way.
Most care leavers must learn to budget and look after themselves from a far earlier age than their peers, whilst the national average for young people leaving home is 26, young people leaving the care system at 18 are having to make decisions to live independently without family support. This means that they face increased pressure, have less disposable income and struggle to afford basic essentials including digital devices and connectivity, meaning they are at a higher risk of becoming digitally excluded. A lack of digital access and skills can have a huge negative impact on a person’s life, leading to increased loneliness and social isolation, less access to jobs and education, which both in turn are associated with poorer health outcomes and a lower life expectancy and financial exclusion
What's being done?
A successful pilot for the connectivity scheme took place in Salford, delivered as a partnership between Salford City Council, GMCA, Good Things Foundation, Salford Foundation and Virgin Media O2. Free data was donated through the National Databank, set up by Good Things Foundation and Virgin Media O2.
The pilot was able to support 48 care leavers in Salford, with 60% successfully supported with connectivity and 20% signing up for additional skills support. A total of 61% of those supported were unaccompanied asylum-seeking children highlighting the depth of the support needed for young people facing disadvantage in Greater Manchester. and the pilot also garnered national interest from Dame Rachel de Souza, Children’s Commissioner for England, who advised the pilot should be shared nationally and available for all care leavers.
In summer 2022, the initiative rolled out across other areas of Greater Manchester. Care Leavers can access the scheme via a simple application process to be completed with support from a care leavers professional contact, known as personal advisors.Care Leavers Digital Support Application