Council acts against care experience discrimination

15 March 2024

Local Councillors have decided that B&NES Council will treat being “care experienced” as if it were a protected characteristic, alongside aspects of identity such as race and disability. The aim is to ensure that the council avoids any decisions or policies which could discriminate against care experienced people, in recognition of the lifelong impact of experiencing the care system.

During the Council meeting, two public speakers made very moving statements about their personal experience of the care system, welcoming the proposal as “a powerful statement of intent” and “a sign of good corporate parenting”.

As a lead campaigner for this change, Terry Galloway of the charity ‘Become’, spoke of the lifelong challenges facing care experienced young people and called for B&NES to become the 82nd Council area to adopt this motion.

Mr Galloway shared sobering statistics illustrating the significant disadvantages care experienced face. For example, care experienced people are 70% more likely to die prematurely, and 50% of young people in prison and 25% of homeless people have experienced the care system.

Cabinet member for Children and Young People, Councillor Paul May, who introduced the motion to full Council, said:

“Our duty as councillors is to do everything we can for care experienced children and young adults. We should be asking whether the support and services we provide would be ‘good enough for my child?’

“Sadly, statistics show that being in care does still lead to significant disadvantage and care experienced adults may therefore engage more with council services on an ongoing basis. As an example, 1 in 4 care experienced young people reported having sofa-surfed in 2022 and 1 in 4 of homeless people are care experienced.

“Whilst their trauma and experience cannot be taken away, we as a council can consider and prevent further discrimination when it comes to policy and decision-making. This is one way we can show we care for them as if they were our own children. We are starting with our own services but also calling on other organisations to follow suit.

“I am truly delighted that the motion was adopted unanimously by Councillors from all parties. This shows that this issue goes beyond politics. In adopting this motion, we have joined 81 other local authorities who have agreed to recognise care experience as if it were a protected characteristic.”

Cllr Paul May

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