Care Leavers Week – Free bus travel for care leavers initiative launched by regional Mayor
Young people leaving care will be able to travel for free on the West of England’s buses.
The announcement was made by Dan Norris, Mayor of the West of England, as Care Leavers Week begins.
Children growing up in care are three times less likely to be in education, employment, or training than other young people their age. They are also more prone to feeling cut off, lonely and isolated, with almost one in five saying they felt lonely always or often, say Barnado’s.
Designed for 18- to 21-year-old young care leavers living in the region, the new West of England and North Somerset-wide bus scheme will provide free travel across the West’s 350-plus square mile network – making it one of the largest schemes of its kind in the UK.
Feedback from the young people receiving the new bus pass has been overwhelmingly positive.
The Mayor, a former child protection officer and who says this is a scheme ‘close to his heart’, was first approached by Barnardo’s about the travel challenges facing young care leavers last year and then discussed it with local organisations including 1625 Independent People.
The scheme has been welcomed by children’s charities, including Barnado’s, who have called it a ‘lifeline’ for care leavers in the region, the Children’s Society as well as Britain’s most famous fictional care leaver, Tracy Beaker, aka actor Dani Harmer.
Funding for the scheme comes from the Department for Transport’s Bus Service Improvement Plan. The West of England Mayoral Combined Authority secured the second highest settlement per head nationwide from government of this fund.