There areÂ 72,000 childrenÂ in care in England, and they face far worse life chances than their peers. They faceÂ a much higher riskÂ of homelessness, teenage pregnancy and unemployment. And justÂ 6% of young people with experience of the care system will attend university, compared with almost 50% in the general population.
To address this, the government announced a newÂ care leaver covenantÂ last week, aimed at easing the path into independent adulthood. While it acknowledges that universities already do a lot to support care leavers, itâ€™s asking that they step up their efforts. Several universities have since signed up to the covenant.
Hawa Koroma is a 23-year-old single mother with two children. She left school with just handful of GCSEs after spending her teenage years looking after her younger sister and grieving for her mother, who died of cancer. Aged 16 and pregnant with her first child, she ended up in a care home. â€œI was lost,â€ she says. But unlike most care leavers she found her way: sheâ€™s now a first-year university student with ambitions to become a child psychologist, Koroma is lucky.
There is available support, though not everyone knows to access it. Koroma credits her personal determination with helping her to succeed. â€œI knew how much my mum had taken education seriously,â€ she says. â€œI was like, â€˜Iâ€™ll make sure I go to college, finish uni, and become what I want to becomeâ€™.â€
Nearest tube: Elephant & Castle underground station (Northern and Bakerloo lines).
Nearest Railway Station: Elephant & Castle
Buses from Elephant and Castle: ask bus driver for Burgess Park. Bus numbers: 12, 171, 148, 176, 68, 484, 42, 40, 45