£57.90 - a care leavers allowance

Could you live on £57.90 a week?

Welcome to my first ever blog!

One of the services I oversee is the care leaving service. The service provides financial, emotional and practical support to young people aged between 16 to 25 years old, who have been looked after.

This week is national care leavers’ week. It provides an opportunity to highlight the achievements and difficulties that care leavers experience as they move into adulthood and living their lives independently.

Now don’t get me wrong, my care leavers are the most amazing bunch of funny, talented and robust young people you could meet. Spend any time with them and you’ll meet an inspiring group of young men and women who are making their way in the world, despite the difficulties many of them have experienced as children.

However, I’m sure you can all remember what life was like when you were in your late teens and early twenties. I bet like me every now then you needed your parents help and these young people are no different.

The only major difference is that instead of coming to Mum and Dad when things go wrong or they need advice, these young people come to me and my team. We, therefore, approach every situation with the simply question “What would a reasonable parent do in this situation?”.  I am a corporate parent to these young people and I have a duty to make sure that their opportunities and futures are no different from those children who haven’t been looked after.

Well you might be thinking, that’s really interesting Andy, but why are you telling us about this now? Well ok here we go; throughout this week I will be living on the equivalent of the weekly living allowance we provide to care leavers, which equates to £57.90.  I’ll let that sink in for a moment.

Do you think you could live on £57.90 for all your food, bills, leisure activities, toiletries, transport, everything else?  Well I’m not so sure I could, so this week I’ll be trying to live just like a care leaver so I can better understand some of the challenges they face.

There are some caveats though. Firstly, I obviously already live in a house and like most of you pay my bills quarterly, so we’ve deducted the average fuel bills, council tax, transport, water, toiletries, from the £57.90.

I agreed in advance with a group of my care leavers - Danny, Shannon, Josh, Skye and Chris - what would be reasonable and what I can and can’t have. Because of where I live, getting on public transport is not really an option if I’m to fulfill my responsibilities as a head of service all week and I’ll also need to use a mobile phone for work. So the deal is I can use a car and mobile phone, but for work purposes only.

What this means in financial terms is that after deductions I will have just £16.90 for all food, drinks and leisure activities. Yikes!!!!

Can I get through a week without coffee? Can I manage to eat healthily with only slightly over £2 per day?

I’ll be writing my blog each night. I’ll also be tweeting about this throughout the week.  See how I’m getting on at @DN_Child #NCLW16

Andy Hood

Head of Service for Targeted Youth Support at Doncaster Children’s Services Trust

 

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