Birmingham care leaver says his experiences are helping him in work

James Stokes
James Stokes visited Downing Street earlier this year to help promote the government scheme

A Birmingham man says growing up in care has helped him in his job checking the wellbeing of hospital staff.

James Stokes, 23, is one of 19 care leavers employed by Birmingham Children's Hospital who said they were valuable members of the team.

The NHS is one of several organisations to join a government scheme which secures jobs for care leavers.

Mr Stokes said after nearly becoming homeless during Covid, he has had a job for a year as well as a flat.

"I think having a care experience makes us different, in a lot of ways," he said.

"I've always had to look after myself and from that I've kind of learnt to look after others."

He was in the care system from 11 to 18, but earlier this year visited Downing Street to help promote the work of the government scheme.

Raffaela Goodby
Raffaela Goodby said she welcomed the scheme and what young people had to offer

National Care Leavers week, from 25 October to 1 November, aims to highlight and celebrate the skills of young people aged over 16 and leaving local authority care.

Raffaela Goodby, chief people officer at Birmingham Women's and Children's Hospital Trust, said she supported the project.

"They're super resilient, they've had to navigate a lot on their own as they've been growing up and they can add that value to our services and make it easier for other young people who might be growing up in care, or with their families, and ultimately help us deliver a better service," she said.

Matthew Gordon, from Spectra, a Wolverhampton-based organisation which persuades employers to commit to the Care Leaver Covenant scheme, said starting adult life coming from care can be hard.

Government data shows that, since 2018-19, there has been a 33% rise in the number of care leaver households aged 18-20 assessed as homeless or threatened with homelessness.

"It's very hard for them to set up home for the first time, set up a bank account, find employment, mental health might be impacted and what the covenant is, is a response to that anxiety and apprehension," Mr Gordon said.

James at work
Mr Stokes has worked for the NHS for a year