"We all need someone to turn to when we first leave home.
That's why I want the Government to give those young people who really struggle when they leave care the support they need. I want to see help extended so everyone has a personal advisor if they want one until 25.
I was 16 when I left care. I’d been in the care system since I was five and stayed with at least five foster families. I never really got the chance to settle. I didn't feel part of a family and get the type of support that comes with having your own mum or a dad.
My name’s Luke. I'm not real - I can't be. Barnardo's has a responsibility to protect the identity of the children that they've created me to represent. But my story is one that thousands of children will have experienced.
I was really scared to go out into the world on my own. I had my mates, but you put on a brave face for them, don’t you? I used to sit at night in a small basement flat the council put me into and just panic.
My personal advisor got me some money to get some things for my room, but it wasn't much when I needed everything! And even after I’d sold my TV I still didn’t have enough to get what I needed, like curtains so that people didn’t stare in. I got some money from one of those loan companies on the high street, but then got really scared when I couldn’t pay them back and they kept turning up for the money.
I was left in a dark flat, without heating and not much food to eat, because after I’d paid towards my debt I had no money left. I just wanted someone to go to who could help me. Some of my mates have that, when they’ve spent all their money or they are finding things tough, they phone their mum or dad - I just don't have that.
I thought a job would sort everything, but I’d never applied for one before and I found it hard to get to understand the forms. Somehow I got an interview, but I didn’t know what to wear or what I was supposed to do when I got there. It might have been easier if I hadn't found school so hard, then I might have had the chance to go to college and would have been helped to understand how to do this. But because I wasn't in one school for long enough, college wasn't an option and now I'm 21 and completely on my own.
I didn’t get the job. I was gutted and I had no-one to tell me that I’d do better next time or tell me everything would be ok.
I would have given anything for someone to turn to.”
At Barnardo’s, we believe that it’s vital for children and young people like Luke to have the support they need when they leave care. We wouldn’t expect other young people to face the world on their own. So why do we let our most vulnerable young people go out there and fend for themselves?
We have a real chance to make leaving care better for children and young people like Luke and we need you to take action to make this happen.
Sign our petition today so that we can convince Lord Nash* to extend support through personal advisors for ALL young people leaving care to 25 in the Children and Families Bill.
With enough signatures we can get Government to listen, so please get as many people to sign our petition as you can.
*Lord Nash is responsible for overseeing the Children and Families Bill as it progresses through the House of Lords.