Ahead of National Care Leavers Week, the City of Wolverhampton Council has passed a motion to ensure that the voice of the city's children in care and care leavers is heard.

The motion, moved at Full Council recently by Cabinet Member for Children and Young People Councillor Chris Burden, proposed including 'care experienced' as a protected characteristic in all Equality Impact Assessments carried out by the council – giving children in care and care leaves formal recognition and making sure that all decisions and policies consider their specific needs.

Kye Barton from Wolverhampton Care Leavers Independent Collective gave a moving speech in support of the motion during last month's meeting (watch below), with councillors giving him a standing ovation before passing the motion in full.

Councillor Burden said: "Every councillor, employee of this council and our partner agencies is a corporate parent to the children in our care and our care experienced young people. 

"We are all responsible for providing the best possible care, safeguarding and educational outcomes for them, and they have the right to expect everything from a good corporate parent that would be expected from a good parent. 

"In partnership with the Care Leavers Independent Collective Forum, we have been able to achieve much for our care leavers in recent years – giving them council tax exemption up to the age of 25, free entry to our WV Active leisure centres, free prescriptions, dedicated support to help them make their next steps into work or education and much, much more.

"However, as fantastic as these achievements are, we know that we can always do more – and we are determined that every decision made and every policy set by this council considers the impact on our care experienced young people.

"A Government commissioned review recommended that care experience should be made a protected characteristic as part of the Equalities Act 2010. As yet, however, it hasn’t progressed this recommendation.

"So we have taken steps here in Wolverhampton to define care experience, regardless of a person’s age, as a protected characteristic until such a time as it may be introduced by legislation.

“I am really pleased that Full Council saw fit to pass the motion, and we will continue to seek out and listen to the voices of our care experienced people when we are developing new policies. 

"We are also formally calling on other organisations and agencies that we work with to follow our lead and make care experience a protected characteristic."

National Care Leavers’ Week, which begins on Wednesday (25 October), is calling on the public, professionals, carers, decision makers and the media to CARE – Celebrate care leavers, Amplify their voices, Raise awareness of challenges and Encourage change in policy and practice.

Councillor Burden added: “The fact that we’ve passed this motion now is very timely, given the theme of this year’s National Care Leavers’ Week, with a strong focus on hearing the voices of care experienced people, and changing policy and practice.”