Camden care leavers awarded protected characteristic status as council announces free Wi-Fi package

People who have experience of being in care living in Camden have been awarded ‘protected characteristic’ status following a motion agreed by Full Council.

Those who are in care, who are care leavers, or who have had a past experience of care, will have the same protection from discrimination as other characteristics under the Equality Act in Camden after a motion to treat care experience as a locally protected characteristic was agreed at Full Council last night [29 January].

The motion recognises that many care leavers nationally face ongoing stigma, challenges and discrimination across housing, health, education, and employment.

Ahead of the motion being agreed, a moving debate took place to raise awareness of the issues people have faced during and since leaving care, and highlighted the incredible achievements of care experienced young people in Camden.

During the debate, campaigner Terry Galloway and author and broadcaster Lemn Sissay OBE spoke about their own experiences growing up in care and how it affected their lives. They spoke alongside care leavers and care experienced Council staff.

The Council also announced yesterday that free Wi-Fi will be provided to all Camden care leavers up until the age of 25, whether they are in council housing, in private rented accommodation, or other accommodation, to further support those with care experience.

Councillor Marcus Boyland, Cabinet Member for Best Start for Children and Families

We know the challenges that care experienced people face – such as barriers into education, employment, and housing – so this is a very proud moment that Camden is now treating care experience as a protected characteristic. This work reaffirms our commitment to supporting children in our care and to those who have been in care, and will make a huge difference to those who have experienced care in Camden.

Councillor Marcus Boyland, Cabinet Member for Best Start for Children and Families
Councillor Nadia Shah, Cabinet Member for Voluntary Sector, Equalities and Cohesion

We are extremely proud of our children in care and those who have experienced care, but we know life is harder for many care leavers who face extra barriers and discrimination. By recognising care experience as a protected characteristic in Camden, we can help ensure that no person with care experience is discriminated against and that they have every opportunity to succeed in the future.

Councillor Nadia Shah, Cabinet Member for Voluntary Sector, Equalities and Cohesion

As well as having outstanding services for children in care and care leavers, the Council has a range of support in place to help those who have experience of the care system to thrive.

This includes exempting those who have left the care system (18 – 25 years) from Council Tax, care leavers receiving priority social housing, a range of grants to support care-experienced young people go into higher education and free access to gyms and leisure centres.

Camden Council has also been offering a range of internships ring-fenced for care leavers aged 16 to 24.

From next month, Camden is also developing a ‘care experienced panel’ – a safe space for young adults to come together to talk about any issues of concern, offer advice and to share views and experience.

Read the full report which went to Full Council.

Find out more about the support Camden offers for care leavers.

See more photos from the care leavers debate at Full Council.