Councillors have unanimously voted to make care experience a protected characteristic.
The motion, which was approved on Thursday 27 July, is for anyone who has spent time in care and will protect them in the same way the Equality Act protects characteristics such as race, religion, age, and sexual orientation. This means that SBC will consider care experienced young people alongside other groups with protected characteristics, when making or suggesting any changes to service delivery or policy design.
SBC wholly owns Slough Children First (SCF) – a company providing social care and support services directly to children, young people, and families in Slough.
Accepting Councillor Qaseem’s motion, Councillor Gill acknowledged that: “Care experienced people face significant barriers that impact them throughout their lives, including discrimination and stigma in accessing services such as housing, education, employment, and criminal justice to name but a few. The Public Sector Equality Duty does not currently treat care experience as a protected characteristic, and as such Slough Borough Council does not include care experience when conducting Equality Impact Assessments of its policies.”
It is hoped that this approved motion will be a formal yet big step to providing further opportunities and equality to care leavers in Slough.
Sue Butcher, SCF’s Director of Children’s Services/Chief Executive said: “As Corporate Parents, our children in care and our care experienced young people are at the heart of everything we do. Our mission at SCF is that we should all be constantly working together to improve the lives of children and young people by protecting, supporting, and enabling them to thrive. We are delighted that care experience is now a protected characteristic in Slough as this will significantly boost young people’s confidence when applying for roles in whatever career path they choose.”
Councillors (in Slough) have also recognised the importance of working with and listening to the voices of its care-experienced people when creating and developing policies about the issue, and to continue to support campaigns that affect them such as the Show Us You Care Too campaign.
Councillor Paul Kelly, lead member for education, children's services, lifelong skills, and governance said: “This is a fantastic step forward for our young people in care and care leavers. Care experience being recognised as a protected characteristic in Slough will help our young people in their future aspirations and careers. We couldn’t be prouder of our young people and continue to find ways to support and encourage them to fulfil their potential.”