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Commitment to care leavers is a significant step

11 November 2022

Image of Dr Navina Evans

By Dr Navina Evans, Chief Workforce Officer, NHS England and Chief Executive, Health Education England, and Mark Rogers, Director of Legacy at Spectra, which delivers the Care Leaver Covenant.

The Care Leaver Covenant took what might prove to be its most significant step so far in its four years when it was signed by NHS England during National Care Leavers Week 2022.

Over 340 organisations across every sector from Amazon to Metro Bank; ITV to Tesco have signed up to the Covenant. The Covenant is a national inclusion programme through which organisations from the private, public and voluntary sectors pledge to provide support for care leavers aged 16-25 to help them to live independently.

A Social Value Toolkit for local authorities and a Care Leaver Friendly Employment Charter have been important milestones for the DfE-funded Covenant programme, opening new ways for care leavers to access opportunities and support their transition to independent living.

NHS England is one of the latest signatories of the Covenant, which is delivered by Spectra, setting an ambition to provide 1,000 internship or early-stage career opportunities for care experienced young people over the next three years.

The commitment from NHS England goes beyond employment opportunities. This is a strategic partnership that aims to embrace the needs of care leavers in the health service more broadly and is part of the NHS mission to address health inequalities and tackle disparities between communities.

This ambition can only be achieved by advocating, creating, and promoting equity of access to the employment opportunities that the NHS has to offer. By signing the Care Leaver Covenant, NHS England is committing to ensuring that the care experienced community have improved access to employment, education, and training within our NHS family.

Many NHS bodies have already become trailblazers in widening access and this partnership builds on that work. NHS Trusts like Birmingham Women and Children’s have been providing pro-active pre-employment and application support, promoting opportunities, taster days and information events through Covenant platforms and actively working with charities and councils in the area to identify, support and ‘on board’ recruits from the care leaver community.  

We have already welcomed some great young people through hospital doors who are quickly adding value to the service, yet as NHS colleagues have described it, we're at the “beginning of the journey”.

With 10 ‘early-adopter’ Integrated Care Boards (ICBs) leading the way on this partnership from early next year, a dedicated team at Spectra is on hand to work with NHS colleagues and collaborate with relevant local authorities who are vital gateways to our care leaver community.

You can find out more about the Covenant here: https://mycovenant.org.uk/ 

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