From education to employment

Care Leavers to lead the way in new chapter for Covenant

The Care Leaver Covenant has announced its advisory board will be chaired by a care leaver for the first time – as it looks to ensure that care experienced young people are at the heart of shaping its future vision.

Zahra Printer has been appointed as chair of the advisory board, while former chair – Mark Rogers has moved to a new role as Director of Legacy – working to future-proof the covenant.

Launched in October 2018, the Covenant is funded by the Department for Education, the Care Leaver Covenant is a national inclusion programme that tackles the disadvantages that young people aged 16-25 face when leaving care and helps them to live independently.

Working with a range of organisations in the private, public and voluntary sectors, who sign up to the Covenant, tangible opportunities for care leavers are created, including employment, education and training, safety and security, health, financial independence and independent living.

The Covenant is determined to ensure that care leavers are at the heart of all of its work and ensuring care experienced young people take up senior roles is a key part of this vision.

Mark’s experience across local government and the children’s sector will be key to shaping the future of the Covenant as it moves forward and looks to grow in the long-term.

The advisory board will continue to work closely with the covenant’s business advisory board to ensure the most is made of future opportunities.

Zahra, aged 26, has been involved in the Care Leaver Covenant since it launched, and last year joined its advisory board. She will now step up to the role of chair. Zahra also works at the Department for Education advising on Care Leavers Policy and volunteers as an Independent Visitor for looked-after children.

Zahra Printer, Chair of the Care Leaver Covenant Advisory Board said:

“Ensuring children and young people are heard is of absolute importance. This is a chance to ensure that the views and experiences of care leavers are embedded throughout the covenant.

“By taking on this role, I want to continue to champion the care leaver community and ensure the voices of care leavers are central to supporting the ambitions the covenant seeks to achieve. I’m looking forward to seeing what changes we can make for the better.

“This is a role I am very passionate about having spent time in care myself. I hope as part of the advisory board I have been able to influence change and empower young people and hope I can continue to do so as chair.

“The feeling really is indescribable – I’ve gone from care to chair. This is a new chapter for the advisory board and I’m excited to see where we can go with this and what opportunities we can create. My ambition now is to create meaningful, sustainable change for care leavers.”

Mark has stepped down from his role as chair of the advisory board and will now act as Director of Legacy, helping to shape the future of the Covenant.

He has a wide-range of experience in local government, including as Chief Executive of Birmingham City Council and most recently as Director General for Children, Young People, Education and Skills in Jersey.

Mark Rogers, Director of Legacy at Care Leaver Covenant, said:

“This is about future-proofing the Covenant. We wanted the advisory board to be led by a young person with experience of care so they can really shape policy going forward and I’m pleased that Zahra has agreed to take on this role.

“We’re now working at bringing about a legacy. The support we’ve had from the Government since launching has been fantastic, and now is about looking forward to the long-term and ensure that the work can continue, in any circumstances.

“To do this we want the business community to mobilise behind the covenant. We’re looking to a new delivery model, one of collaboration with businesses.

“We see success as a self-sustaining model and a covenant that has an even greater reach than it has currently. We want to work closer with the NHS – as the largest employer in Europe, working with them would mean huge opportunities for young people.

“Our business council already has great reach in the private sector, but we want to do more and work with more businesses, for the good of care leavers.

“Our vision is a covenant which is recognised as the norm and it is expected that companies are signed up – similar to a scheme like the Real Living Wage.”

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