Young people need a guardian during lockdown

HOPE Sessional worker, Emma, tells a story of a young man who could've really benefitted from having a legal guardian.  

Challenges of Covid-19 

group of hands coming together

Challenges of Covid-19

I was recently contacted by a young person from the HOPE group who was finding managing his finances difficult due to the changes to his weekly food shop. He was unable to budget, as he had previously done, because of the panic buying from others leaving little choice on the shelves. The young person also had to purchase additional Wi-Fi in order to access education virtually, use more electricity from studying at home and felt very much isolated because of the whole experience.  

Changing teams

Changing teams

Initially, I asked the young person if he had contacted his leaving care worker, which he had done on more than one occasion but with no response from the worker or the team. Whilst the young person accepted that the Covid-19 pandemic had affected the way in which social work teams were operating, his requests for support had not even been acknowledged. I eventually managed to contact one of his previous workers, but she was unable to help me as the young person was now with the over 21 leaving care team.

No reply

Since the beginning of lockdown, we have still received no response from the over 21 leaving care team – despite continued attempts to make contact. Luckily, I was able to make contact with the Manchester Covid-19 helpline who were fantastic support and provided a weekly halal food delivery for the young person. The young person has since made contact with me to thank me for my help and let me know that as he is receiving food parcels, he is now managing the rest of his bills better. I am also happy to report that the Government has also increased Universal Credit benefits, which has made another positive impact on the young person’s life during this stressful time.

Case for Guardianship

My story leads me to explain how I feel that a legal guardian would have been of assistance in this scenario. I am only contracted to work ten hours per week for the HOPE group and I split my time between a numbers of young people.  If a young person had a legal guardian, that would be one person to support them in times of uncertainty.  

Why should it be any different for him?

I cannot begin to imagine how the young person in my example felt when the leaving care team ignored his calls and his cries for help. I wonder who would have helped with his food if I had not have stepped in. I do not expect the young person to understand the ways of the world, I have years ahead in life experience in this case and I still on occasion ask for help, so why should it be any different for him? This young person has come to the UK through human trafficking, not knowing who to trust, how the UK operates and who to ask for help in times of uncertainty. It seems only right to offer such a person the opportunity to have a parent type figure.

Legal guardians would give clarity and guidance

A legal guardian would provide a personalised approach, an approach that supporting agencies cannot always offer.  A legal guardian could have also been the person to help the young person during this stressful time without the need for having to contact so many agencies including; social work teams, leaving care teams, The Children’s Society and food banks.  

One counsellor says, 'from my experiences working with these wonderful young people, I feel the amount of different professionals involved can have a detrimental impact causing confusion rather than giving clarity and guidance.'