Teesside councillors are calling on Mayor Ben Houchen to support care leavers with free bus travel. Stockton Councillor Barbara Inman and Middlesbrough Councillors Alma Hellaoui and Craig Wright have written to Mr Houchen asking him to use his existing powers to offer free bus travel up to age 21 to care leavers.
Care leavers face many challenges. They are much more likely to face homelessness and 39% of care leavers are NEET (Not in Education, Employment or Training) compared to 12% of all other 19-21 year olds. Free bus travel will help these young people in attending job interviews, gaining employment and attending college. Furthermore, care leavers often have appointments with social workers and other professionals, free bus travel will make it easier for care leavers to keep up with this.
Councillor Craig Wright, a member of Middlesbrough Council’s Corporate Parenting Board and who is behind this campaign said “At a recent care leavers’ forum, care leavers discussed how difficult it can be to get around on such a limited budget. By providing free bus travel for care leavers, we can help to even the playing field and allow our care leavers to get on in life.”
“Councillors Inman, Hellaoui and Wright have my full support in this matter. Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham, recently introduced a similar scheme and it is time for Tees Valley’s care leavers to get the same support. Free bus travel up to age 21 for care leavers will assist in levelling the playing field for some of our most disadvantaged young people. It will help them get into work, attend college and university and socialise.
“Care leavers already face many challenges, we should do anything we can to ease the pressures. Free bus travel is a great place to start.”