Councillors this week joined young people to discuss issues related to the current cost of living crisis.
Cllr Graham Morgan, Leader of Knowsley Council, and Cllr Margaret Harvey, Cabinet Member for Children’s Services in Knowsley went along to the Care Experienced People Forum in Huyton to meet with young people who have experience of being in care.
For young care leavers, the cost of living is presenting a particular challenge as many do not have family support to rely on as they start their adult lives. In many cases, care leavers find themselves facing the many costs of living independently much earlier in life – trying to balance bills, rent and other costs for the first time whilst also studying or just starting on the career ladder.
The pressure this is adding on the young people has been a concern of councillors in Knowsley for some time. So much so that in December, they voted not to take any increase in their Members Allowances for this year and instead give the money saved to the young people. This act of generosity – agreed at the meeting of full Council in December, means that approximately £20,000 will now be shared amongst care experienced young people from Knowsley to support them at this time.
Cllr Margaret Harvey said: “Young people leaving care don’t have the same ‘safety nets’ that many young people their age take for granted – they find themselves having to live independently at a young age. For them, many adult challenges all come at once – finding somewhere to live, paying bills and managing money – all whilst studying or starting jobs and working out what to do their lives. It’s a lot for them to cope with.
“As councillors, we’re ‘corporate parents’ for the young people in our care – and our responsibilities don’t end when they turn 18. Like any parent we want to help these young people make a smooth transition to adulthood. That’s why we all felt strongly that we must do a little extra to support them whilst the costs of food, essentials and bills are so high. It’s important that they know they are not on their own.”
She added: “It was a real pleasure to attend the Care Experienced People’s Forum and hear first-hand from the young people about those experiences and how they’re adapting to independent living.”