LifeSkills created with Barclays is a free employability programme which gives people the skills, knowledge and confidence they need to succeed in work. LifeSkills has supported over 10 million people since launching in 2013.
Spectra and LifeSkills collaborated to tackle a continuing challenge for vulnerable young people: low financial literacy leading to debt and other long term problems. Our goal was to tailor relevant LifeSkills materials and make it as easy as possible for care leavers to access the information via the LifeSkills website.
We worked with groups of care leavers and support workers, in different parts of the country, to evaluate existing materials and augment them in ways that spoke explicitly to challenges they and their peers had faced.
LifeSkills created a specific suite of lesson plans with topics ranging from paying bills, to budgeting, saving, being fraud aware and more, which are marked as care leaver content, and easily searchable on the LifeSkills website. There are also interactive tools, films and activities within the ‘Young People’ hub which young people can access in their own time, to develop their financial and core transferable skills.
Opening its doors in the summer of 2010, Metro Bank was the first high street bank to open in the UK in over 100 years and now has 77 stores across the country. Customers rated the bank number one for store and digital service in the Competition and Market Authority’s Service Quality Survey in February 2020.
Research by Action for Children identified that, for vulnerable young people, not having a bank account is often a barrier to employment, training and other activities that are crucial to independent living. Metro Bank was aware of some of the challenges that vulnerable young people faced in opening bank accounts but they had not developed specific policies to enhance support for customer groups such as children in care and young people leaving care.
Spectra and Metro Bank determined a bespoke account opening process for care leavers, which removes common challenges based on ID and fixed address requirements. And, to encourage care leavers to head into stores and seek advice on managing their accounts, Metro Bank is running accessible and interactive sessions in stores in different parts of the country.
Metro Bank’s tailored account opening process – available across its 77 stores - is available to the 10,000 young people per year that leave care and begin independent adult lives.
Trowers & Hamlins is a 240 year-old law firm with more than 900 employees working across the globe. Headquartered in London, Trowers is known for its work at the interface of the public and private sectors, in fundamental areas such as real estate, education and infrastructure.
Councils have a strong role to play in creating social value. They are large local employers and they bring industry, growth and opportunity to their areas of the country. It’s estimated that Birmingham and Solihull will spend £1 Billion on infrastructure between 2019-2028. We knew that social value-based procurement was happening but we wanted to inspire councils to be more specific and to have an explicit support strategy for young people leaving care.
We partnered with Trowers to produce a 12-page ‘Toolkit’ that equipped councils to create stronger support for care leavers at the procurement phase: combines guidance on language, advertisement and contract management as well as giving examples of best practice from councils that are leading in their support for vulnerable groups.
Since the Toolkit launched, over twenty councils from across England are redesigning their procurement practices, to reflect the Toolkit's ambitious agenda, and more than fifty have attended workshops to learn more about using the Toolkit.
The OfS is the independent regulator for Higher Education in England. They have the responsibility of supporting universities to deliver the commitments set out in their Access & Participation Plans.
Best estimates suggest that around 7-12% of care leavers enter university, compared to around 40% of the wider population of school-leavers. Care leavers that do enter university are 38% more likely to withdraw before completing their course. These statistics demonstrate that there are major structural and, in many cases, emotional barriers for care leavers in entering and prospering at university.
Spectra and OfS are collaborating to remove these barriers and increase the number of care leavers applying, entering, succeeding in and progressing from higher education. This means continuous discussion of care leavers’ challenges, in the context of other cohorts of students, and how institutions can enhance tailored and meaningful support and provisions.
Spectra has inputted into the development of OfS policy and guidance for higher education providers, and we have coordinated a working group comprised of the OfS, Student Loans Company and UCAS to consider guidance and processes for care leavers aiming to go to university and wanting to apply for student finance.
Engie is a leading energy and services company focused on three key activities: production and supply of energy, facilities management and regeneration. Their 17,000 employees combine these capabilities for individuals, businesses and communities throughout the UK & Ireland.
For many young people who receive benefits, social housing is a strong option for a first independent residence. Unfortunately, these houses are sometimes poorly maintained and poorly furnished and the incoming tenant may not have the means or family support to refurbish it.
This leads to a situation where a young person can be living on their own for the first time, potentially in an unfamiliar neighbourhood, with no comfortable spaces to relax, no cooking equipment nor other basics.
Spectra and Engie worked together to tackle this, establishing Engie’s ‘Helping Hand DIY SOS’ programme, which involves Engie teams refurbishing living spaces, at no cost, for the young people that need it most: P&D, garden clearance, fitting curtains and blinds, flooring, white goods, furniture and more to make living spaces more comfortable.
The initiative made an instant impact, with more than 23 homes transformed for young people in the pilot phase alone. Engie and Spectra are now planning a roll-out of the initiative across the country.
The Department for Education, commanding an annual budget of over £50 Billion, is the government department responsible for children’s services, education, apprenticeships and wider skills in England.
In the UK there are around 70,000 children in care and about 10,000 young people leave care each care. Our current support structures for these young people are not sufficient: around 40% of care leavers aged 19-21 are unemployed (Vs. 14% of the general population) and over 25% of both the male and female prison populations are care leavers.
In 2017 the DfE created the Care Leaver Covenant, to build a strong support structure and improve outcomes for care leavers, and Spectra were appointed as the Covenant’s national delivery agent, launching a distinctive strategy and brand in Birmingham in October 2018. Since then we have worked across England with ‘signatories’ from the public, private and voluntary sectors who create employment, training and leisure opportunities for care leavers aged 16-25.
Since the launch of the Covenant, over 1000 opportunities have been made accessible to care leavers by our diverse signatory network of over 150 organisations, including London’s Old Vic Theatre, Liverpool FC Foundation, Barnardo’s and ITV.