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An undercover investigation reveals shocking conditions for care leavers


An undercover investigation by Barnardo’s revealed the shocking state of accommodation provided by local authorities for children leaving care.

Using a Freedom of Information request, we discovered that 73 per cent of local authorities in England placed vulnerable care leavers in B&B accommodation during 2013-14. To make matters worse, 51 per cent of these, placed care leavers in B&B accommodation for more than 28 days in a row. Government guidance on B&B use by councils clearly states the unsuitability of this kind of accommodation, and that it should only be used in an emergency.

In response to the figures, Barnardo’s Director Puja Darbari went undercover, staying one night at one of the B&Bs where young people leaving care have been placed. She discovered a dangerous and frightening environment. Her investigation, which she recorded on video, showed the upsetting conditions that some children leaving the care system are faced with, at a time when they are extremely vulnerable.

Harrowing footage captured a smoke alarm covered with a plastic bag, a faulty lock on the communal bathroom door, extreme damp and mould in the bedroom, rot around the window, an unclean bathroom and overall unsuitable conditions throughout the building.

Puja said: “Having spent the night in a B&B where care leavers have been placed and having experienced awful conditions, I am horrified that this is how we treat vulnerable young people in desperate need of a place to stay.

“It really was a horrible experience.  I’m a grown woman and I was scared.  I can’t begin to imagine how a 16 year old would cope in that situation. Many of these young people have already had horrific childhoods. Surely we owe them more than placing them on their own in such squalid and isolating environment, against government guidelines.”

Young  Male Care Leaver

Barnardo’s new guidance for local councillors and our Beyond Care campaign, aims to help them understand the support these young people, who can be among the most vulnerable in the country, need. Our ‘Beyond Care’ campaign pinpoints particular areas that should be addressed and also offers advice.  It is hoped the guidance will help start discussions in local authorities to offer better alternatives, and meet the housing needs of care leavers.  

We would be grateful if you could support the #beyondcare campaign.  You can write to your local councillor to demand better conditions for these young people who have no one else to turn to.

To view Barnardo’s undercover video, read our guidelines for local authorities and get involved, please visit Beyond Care.

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