Thursday 22 February 2024
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Government urged to make discrimination against those who have lived in care system illegal

A group of young people have handed in a petition at 10 Downing Street in a bid to make discrimination against those who have been in the care system illegal.

Care leavers were accompanied by campaigner Terry Galloway, who runs a housing association in Nottingham, during the visit on Wednesday, June 14.

The aim is to change the law so the Equality Act 2010 recognises care experience as a protected characteristic, similar in that to race and disability, so it is considered when policies are drawn up.

It had been a recommendation of the independent review of children’s social care, chaired by Josh MacAlister.

The review said the Government should introduce legislation “without delay”, so that care experience becomes a protected characteristic in UK equality law.

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In response to the review, the Government revealed it would not be including the change in the law in its most recent children’s social care strategy.

So far 31 councils across the UK have passed motions to treat care experience as if it was a protected characteristic.

These councils include Ashfield District Council, one of the first lower-tier councils to pass such a motion, and Labour-run Nottingham City Council.

Nottinghamshire County Council also passed a motion tabled by the Ashfield Independents, despite initial reluctance to do so from the Conservative-run council over political differences.

Fay, 17, of Rotherham, who visited Downing Street with Mr Galloway, said she herself has experienced discrimination, including when applying for jobs.

“It was such an honour to take this campaign to Downing Street and to be the one to hand in the petition,” she said.

“I’m extremely proud of myself and the other girls who helped and really cannot wait to see the change we’re fighting for.”

Mr Galloway was moved in and out of care more than a hundred times when he was younger and today campaigns for better rights for those with experience of the care system.

He has travelled thousands of miles and sat in every council meeting where motions have been passed by local authorities to treat care experience as a protected characteristic.

The petition, he says, will provide the Government with the information it needs to “really understand the issues”.

“Their corporate parentings would be so proud of what their children achieved today,” he added.

“It was hard, it was emotional, but they stood up for care experienced people everywhere.

“Speaking about discrimination and stigma they go through on a daily basis hurts, so at the very least people should listen to them.”

During the visit, the group met with Children’s Commissioner Dame Rachel de Souza, whose non-departmental public office is responsible for promoting and protecting the rights of children.

On Twitter she said it had been “fantastic” to welcome the group.

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