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University pledges to help find jobs for young people leaving care

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Published on 09 December 2021

(L-R) Wendy Price and Justine Gillespie
(L-R) Wendy Price and Justine Gillespie

The University of Sunderland has formally committed to offer employment opportunities to vulnerable young people leaving care.

The University has signed the Care Leaver Friendly Employer Charter, which has been launched to reduce the number of care leavers not in education, employment or training.

The charter has been developed by the Care Leaver Covenant - a national inclusion programme that supports care leavers aged 16 to 25 to live independently - in collaboration with recruitment specialists Penna.

Often care leavers are not able to access jobs in organisations that do not have tailored support for vulnerable employees, which this charter aims to tackle. By signing up, the University is committing to helping these young people access career opportunities and thrive in the workplace.

Wendy Price, Head of Widening Access & Participation at the University of Sunderland, said: “The University were early adopters of the Care Leaver Covenant and have provided personalised support for care-experienced students for many years.

“We are extremely proud to sign the Care Leaver Covenant employer charter, which will support us in our aim of ensuring that care leavers can thrive as employees of the University.

“We recognise that some care leavers might not have someone to guide them through the application process or to discuss ideas with. We provide support at each stage of the application process, from the first point of enquiry and beyond.

“This helps us to provide care leavers with the information and confidence they need to perform their best when applying for a job at the University. Ultimately this will support care leavers to live independently, provide financial security and have a rewarding and fulfilling career.”

The charter sets out nine principles for employers to adopt and outlines key activities to work towards in recruitment, tracking and development, ensuring that care leavers are identified and supported.

Justine Gillespie, Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Manager at the University of Sunderland, said: “Here at the University, we have a set of values that bring clarity to the type of organisation we are and the principles that will guide the activities, decisions and principles and the behaviours that are required. One of those values is Inclusion.

“Inclusion is fundamentally about individual experience and allowing everyone to contribute and feel a part of our community and to able to be authentic at work.

“Our inclusion strategy focuses on ensuring that everyone at the University regardless of their background, their identify or their circumstance feels valued, accepted, and supported to succeed.

“Positive action on inclusion can only come about with meaningful and intentional action and signing up to the Care Leaver Friendly Employer Charter demonstrates that the University is committed to providing support for care-experienced students in finding employment with us so that they can reach their full potential.”