West Berkshire Council

Care Leavers

Housing advice for care leavers

If you are a care leaver you may be able to get housing assistance from social services. They should continue to help you until you turn 21, or until you are 24 if you are still in full-time education. The help you get depends on your age and what help social services provide in your area.

Who is a care leaver? You are a care leaver if you fit into one of the following categories.

1. Eligible Child

  • Aged 16 or 17

  • Looked after by children's services for a period of 13 weeks since the age of 14

  • Currently looked after

Entitled to:

  • A Personal Advisor

  • A Needs Assessment

  • A Pathway Plan

  • Receive all the care and support they normally receive until they leave care

2. Relevant Child

  • Aged 16 or 17

  • Looked after by children's services for a period of 13 weeks since the age of 14

  • Looked after for a period of time after their 16th birthday

  • No longer looked after

Entitled to:

  • A Personal Advisor 

  • A Needs Assessment

  • A Pathway Plan 

  • Accommodation and maintenance

  • Financial support to meet education, training and employment needs

3. Former Relevant Child

  • Aged between 18 and 21, or between 18 and 25 if still in full-time education

  • Previously an eligible child and/or a relevant child

Entitled to:

  • A Personal Advisor

  • A Pathway Plan, kept under regular review

  • Assistance with employment, education and training

  • Suitable accommodation

  • Help with living costs

4. Qualifying Care Leaver

  • Aged between 16 and 21, or between 16 and 25 if still in full-time education

  • Looked after by children's services on, or after, their 16th birthday and no longer looked after

  • Spent less than 13 weeks in care since 14th birthday

  • do not fulfil criteria for eligible or relevant child

Entitled to:

  • Help with living expenses and if they are in higher education they may also help with securing vacation

  • Accommodation

  • Advice and assistance from Children's Services, which may be in cash

To contact children's social services please call the West Berkshire Contact and Assessment Service on 01635 503 090. If you are calling outside normal office hours (9am-5pm), please call the emergency duty team on 01344 786 543.

The council may be able to provide advice if you are homeless or threatened with homelessness in 56 days and you are unable to make provisions for yourself. You can make an application to receive further advice and information about your housing issue. You can receive further advice and information about your housing issue from the Housing Operations Team. Simply call 01635 519 530 and choose option 2.

What can the housing service do to support you?

Duty to prevent homelessness: The council is committed to supporting applicants who are at risk of losing accommodation within 56 days. This means that we will try to prevent your homelessness by helping you to remain in your current accommodation, if that is possible. Otherwise we will explore with you alternative housing options such as securing accommodation in the private rented sector or supported accommodation.

Duty to take steps to relieve homelessness: We will assist households who are homeless to secure suitable accommodation, regardless of whether they are 'intentionally homeless' or have a priority need. This means that all eligible households will be offered help to secure accommodation.

You can approach the service to receive further advice and information about your housing situation by contacting the housing operations team on 01635 519 530 and choose option 2. Alternatively, you contact us by e-mail on housing@westberks.gov.uk 

Will the council provide me with accommodation?

We can provide advice and assistance to enable you to find alternative accommodation. However, we will not have a duty to provide emergency accommodation or temporarily house you unless you are considered to be eligible, homeless and have priority need. Your Homelessness Prevention & Relief Officer will discuss this with you as part of your application process and make necessary enquiries to determine our duties.

For more information on the homelessness criteria please visit the Shelter Homepage or contact Shelter on 080 8800 4444.

Priority Need
If you are a young person under 21 and you were a looked after child between the ages of 16 and 18, you will be deemed to be vulnerable as a result of having been looked after, accommodated or fostered in order to have a priority need. Both of these categories exclude 'relevant students' who are owed particular accommodation and support duties by Social Services under the Children (Leaving Care) Act. If a young person was looked after when aged 16 or 17 they will be in priority need when they are 18, 19 or 20 years old, whether or not they qualify for leaving care services from a children's services authority.

Bramlings is a supported housing scheme for vulnerable young people, including young parents. There are support staff available 24 hours a day and they have 12 single en-suite rooms, which share a lounge and kitchen, and 13 self-contained 1 bedroom apartments. Eight of these are reserved for young parents.

Contact Care & Support team on 0800 432 0077

For more information and other ways to contact visit: Bramlings Supported Youth Housing

You can get independent advice from advocacy services listed below:

Coram Voice
Coram Voice enables and equips children and young people to hold to account the services that are responsible for their care.

Telephone: 080 8800 5792

Email: help@coramvoice.org.uk 

Website: Coram Voice

Just for Kids Law
This is a specialised service consisting of lawyers who work directly with young people to help them navigate their way through challenging times: whether they are facing difficulties at school, mental health, immigration or criminal justice issues, are being denied benefits, or are homeless.

Telephone: 020 3174 2279

Email: info@justforkidslaw.org 

Website: www.justforkidslaw.org

Rees foundation
The aim of the Rees Foundation is to ensure that care leavers won't have to make that transition alone. Many existing services can only be accessed up to a certain age, but the Rees foundation want to help anyone who has been in care not just to survive, but to thrive as adults. They believe that everyone may need support at times, but also that everyone has something to offer. They can work to build a network of people with care experience who can support each other, creating a sense of belonging and a positive sense of identity. Having access to stable and supportive relationships is essential to reaching your full potential and achieving aspirations.

Website: Rees foundation