Looking for help and advice? Contact our friendly Care Advice Line. Freephone 0800 023 2033 or for more info. Find out more

We understand that lots of care-experienced young people might be feeling anxious about coronavirus (COVID-19). Things can feel quite overwhelming, especially if you don’t have family around to talk to.

It’s important to remember that this is completely normal – many of us are feeling the same way and you’re not alone.

At Become, we’re here for you. If you’ve got questions about the impact of coronavirus on the care you’re receiving, want to understand your rights and entitlements, would like some advice, or just need someone to talk to, you can get in touch with us on touch with us on 0800 023 2033 or at advice@becomecharity.org.uk.

See below for our top tips to calm anxiety and feel less isolated, as well as answers to some questions you might have around coronavirus as someone in or leaving care. If you're a care leaver, you can also view the COVID-19 factsheets on the Care Leaver Covenant website.

It’s important that everyone follows the latest guidelines from the NHS on coronavirus and staying at home and reads the social distancing guidance for young people.

Everyone must stay at home as much as possible to help stop the spread of coronavirus. This includes people of all ages - even if you do not have any symptoms. You should work from home if you can, limit contact with other people and follow the guidelines. Stay 2 metres away from other people where possible and wash your hands as soon as you get home.

The main systems of coronavirus are: a high temperature, a new, continuous cough, or a loss or change to your sense of smell or taste. If you have any of the main symptoms of coronavirus you should get a test to check if you have coronavirus as soon as possible. You and anyone you live with should stay at home and not have visitors until you get your test result. If you test positive and need to self-isolate, you should stay at home for 10 days.  

FAQs

First of all - don't worry. Remember that the majority of children and young people don't experience severe symptoms, and there are lots of people who are around to help you if you feel unwell. 

If you’re in care and you develop any of the coronavirus symptoms (see here), you should tell whoever is caring for or supporting you as soon as possible, such as your foster carer(s) or a member of staff in your children’s home. They will be able to make sure your social worker knows too, arrange for you to get a test, and come up with a plan to best support you and any other children you’re living with depending on the result. 

If you're living more independently (e.g. in supported accommodation), you can speak to your key worker as well as contact your social worker or personal adviser directly. 

If you’ve left care and you’re living independently, you should tell your personal adviser as soon as possible (e.g. by phone, text or however you would normally contact them outside of face-to-face meetings) so they can arrange to support you and ensure you get a test. You can find out more about COVID-19 testing here.

Whilst the impacts of the pandemic continue, it might mean that the professionals supporting you, such as social workers, personal advisers or children’s home staff, are less available than normal. You might find it takes a bit longer for you to get answers to questions or help from those supporting you.

Visits and meetings with your social worker or personal adviser may still continue to take place over the phone or online, although they should take place face-to-face providing it’s safe.

Regular family time or contact should continue to take place, but it may need to happen by phone or video if it’s not safe to take place face-to-face.

If you’re a care leaver and have moved into your own home during the pandemic, you can still receive your setting up home allowance. Other forms of financial support for care leavers should continue to be available, including discretionary payments to cover items such as food, utilities and rent during this period if needed. Speak to your personal adviser about what additional support the local authority is providing to care leavers (beyond their published local offer).

Remember, those supporting and caring for you will be doing their best to make sure you get the support you need. However, if you’re worried about something and you don’t feel you’re getting enough support, or you don't feel you're being listened to and you want to know your rights, you can always contact our Care Advice Line on 0800 023 2033 or at advice@becomecharity.org.uk.

Due to the new lockdown restrictions, colleges, primary school (reception onwards) and secondary schools will remain open for only a small number of children, including those in care and those whose parents must continue to work.  

If you are in care, then your carers, social worker, teachers and staff from the Virtual School will make sure your education continues according to what is best for you.

Some pupils and care leavers are able to get access to IT equipment (such as tablets and laptops) and internet connections if you don't have them already. This is to support online learning and keep you connected with the professionals supporting you and others. You should contact your social worker or Personal Adviser if you need technology support (e.g. a laptop or tablet you can work from or better internet access).

The BBC have announced that from Monday 11th January, each weekday on CBBC there will be a three-hour block of primary school programming from 9am. BBC Two will cater for secondary students with programming to support the GCSE curriculum, with a least two hours of content each weekday.

The government are working with The Office of Qualifications and Examinations Regulation (Ofqual) to look at how to best assess upcoming exams. If you are due to sit your GCSEs, BTECs, A Levels or another qualification in summer then an update on how these will be delivered and assessed will be announced soon.

Public exams and vocational assessments scheduled to take place in January may go ahead as planned, but this is dependent on each school, college or exam centre. Your teachers or tutors will let you know if you will still be expected to sit these exams

UCAS’s equal consideration deadline has been moved back to 6pm on January 29th, this means that students in year 13 will be able to apply for their chosen universities until this date.  If you would like any advice or support with applying to university please do contact us via our website propel.org.uk or contact our Care Advice Line: 0800 023 2033.

At the moment, it might feel lonely on campus, so reach out to friends, your Students’ Union and student support staff at your university for advice. Our website propel.org.uk lists the named contacts for care-experienced students at most colleges and universities offering higher education in the UK if you're not sure who to contact. You can also e mail us via Propel or contact our Care Advice Line: 0800 023 2033, if you need help to identify who that person is or want some advice.

The government has asked universities and colleges to make sure that certain groups, including care leavers and students without family support, get the help they need during the coronavirus outbreak. This should include guaranteed access to appropriate accommodation, continued access to financial support, access for a named contact and access to student support services. Speak to your Personal Adviser and the named contact at your college or university if you're struggling with money, accommodation, your studies or anything else.

Due to the new lockdown restrictions, only those studying the following courses need to return to face to face learning at university. In order to attend face to face classes students studying the courses below will also need to be tested twice, upon arrival or self-isolate for ten days:

  • Medicine & dentistry
  • Subjects allied to medicine/health
  • Veterinary science
  • Education (initial teacher training)
  • Social work

If you are studying a course which requires a Professional, Statutory and Regulatory Body (PSRB) assessments and or mandatory activity which is scheduled for January and which cannot be rescheduled (your university will notify you if this applies to you).

Students who do not study these courses should remain where they are wherever possible, and start their term online, as facilitated by their university until at least Mid-February. This includes students on other practical courses not on the list above.

Universities are making their own plans for teaching. You should get information directly from your university, but speak with your Personal Adviser or the named contact at your university if you're unsure. It's likely that the coming terms will look quite different to normal, with lots of online teaching, but this will vary between courses and institutions.

Those who can have been asked to work from home, but this isn’t possible for everyone. You might be worried about being able to continue working or accessing benefits if you can’t work.

The government has made it easier for people to claim sick pay and get benefits, and there's also been an increase in the standard allowance for Universal Credit.

The government is operating a Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme where you can be placed on temporary leave (known as furlough) by your employer.  Your employer can claim 80% of your usual salary for hours not worked, up to a maximum of £2,500 per month. This scheme will stay open until 30th April 2021. There's also government support for those who are self-employed.

If you’ve got worries about money or you need some help understanding what you’re entitled to – such as Universal Credit – you can always get in touch with our team on 0800 023 2033 or at advice@becomecharity.org.uk.

If you’ve got questions about the impact of coronavirus on the care you’re receiving, want to understand your rights and entitlements, would like some advice, or just need someone to talk to, you can get in touch with us on 0800 023 2033 or at advice@becomecharity.org.uk. Our Care Advice Line is open to care experienced children and young people up to the age of 27 (as well as the adults and professionals supporting you).

We recognise that the lockdown is tough and may make you feel isolated or lonely. We run a weekly online Link-Up every Tuesday from 5:30-7pm. The Link-Up is a space for care leavers (aged 16-27) from across the country to get together, play games, make friends and raise each other’s spirits! We often have themed specials and guest take-overs.

We also offer 1:1 support and coaching to care leavers. You might have a specific goal you want to work towards or you might just want some extra support. The support is led by you and tailored to your needs.

For further information about the Link-Ups or 1:1 support, and to get involved, contact Tasha on 07508179135 or email engagement@becomecharity.org.uk.

Our tips to calm anxiety and stay connected

Whilst some things are outside of our control, there are lots of positive steps you can take to boost your mental wellbeing and make sure you keep connected to those who are important to you.

  

Take a break from the news or social media

It’s really easy to feel overwhelmed by what you read, see and hear, so it’s a good idea to limit the amount of time you spend scrolling. Stick with trusted sources for information. Remember - you’re in control of your media habits, so instead of reading another Twitter thread or watching yet another Insta story about isolating, consider doing something which makes you happy like watching a film or chatting to a friend.

 

Talk to people

It’s important to make some time to speak with your friends and loved ones, especially when many of us will be staying at home. This might require a little more planning than normal but reducing physical contact doesn't have to mean reducing social contact.

 

Make use of technology

Thankfully, there are lots of great options to help you stay connected with those who matter most to you. WhatsApp, FaceTime, Skype and other apps are great ways of remaining in touch with others even if you’re unable to meet up face-to-face. Having the opportunity to see the other person through video chatting can be better than just relying on texts or calls.

 

Prepare and plan

If you do find yourself with symptoms, or if someone else you live with develops symptoms, then you’ll need to stay at home for a short while. You can help reduce any worry by planning for this now – you might want to chat with the professionals supporting you about things like food shopping or setting up somewhere for you to work or study. You might find it helpful to stick with as normal a routine as possible, but also recognise that staying at home might provide some new opportunities – consider making a list of all of those tasks you’ve put off or things you’ve wanted to try but haven’t found the time yet, like learning a new skill via YouTube or perfecting that cake recipe.

 

Get in touch for extra support

If you think you’d appreciate some extra help or advice, there are lots of people and organisations out there who can help. Our Care Advice Service is here for you on 0800 023 2033 or at advice@becomecharity.org.uk. You don’t need to have a question about care – you might just want to chat with someone for a little while. YoungMinds, a charity supporting children and young people’s mental health, has a helpful list of other services you might find useful.

Weekly Link-Ups

We are hosting regular Link-Ups for care-experienced young people, which includes quizzes, games, debates and virtual ‘hangouts’ where young people can come together via video to talk, gain peer support and raise each other’s spirits. For further information and to get involved, you can contact Tasha on 07508179135 or click below to send an email.