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Celebrating 25 Years!

For 25 years we have been the leading charity for children in care and young care leavers in England.

At Become, we think all children in care should have the same chance to lead happy, fulfilling lives as those who are raised in their birth families. It is our mission is to make this happen.

For the last 25 years, we have successfully supported young people who have been in care, helping to transform their futures, and speaking up on the issues that matter to them. Find out how we did this in 2017 here

We are proud of the difference we have made to the individual lives of young people in care and the care system as a whole but we recognise there is still much to be done.

Your gift of £25 could…

  • Give a young care-leaver the support and advice they need to navigate through a crisis by funding a phone call to our free helpline, the Care Advice Line
  • Help fund a young person to develop coping techniques and improve their wellbeing by funding their attendance at a three-hour group coaching session, where they will meet other care-experienced young people and learn how to cultivate positive emotions
  • Enable a care-experienced young person to make an informed decision about their higher education by funding the development of Propel, which details the support universities across the UK offer care leavers
"The level of support I have received from Become in all senses, particularly emotionally, has had a real impact in the way I have grown in the last 3 years."
-Alisha, 19
Our 25 year journey
Scroll through the key dates in our history and see what's changed in the care system.
  1. 1985

    Who Cares? magazine was set up by Tory Laughland, a Westminster social worker, together with a small group of social work colleagues. Tory felt that it was time young people in care received something just for them; somewhere they could not only hear about other teenagers in the same situation, be inspired by older care leavers who are doing well, but also where they could air their problems and experiences and feel properly listened to.

  2. 1987

    After nine issues of Who Cares? and increasing popularity, the magazine went from Westminster-only distribution to a nationwide reach with the support of the National Children’s Bureau (NCB) and the National Association of Young People in Care (NAYPIC).

  3. 1992

    The Who Cares? Trust is launched as a charity, publishing Who Cares? magazine and running a range of projects to help children in care and young care leavers, as well as policy influencing and research work. Circulation of Who Cares? at that time is 18,000 – a quarter of all young people in care. Founder Tory Laughland says in a Times article about Who Cares? magazine: ‘It’s indefensible how badly the system is run. It’s very fragmented – you get wonderful practice in one place, and abysmal in the next.’

  4. 1992

    The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) is an international human rights treaty that grants all children and young people (aged 17 and under) a comprehensive set of rights. The UK signed the convention on 19 April 1990, ratified it on 16 December 1991 and it came into force on 15 January 1992.

  5. 1995

    Susanna Cheal becomes Chief Executive. The charity opens Linkline, a telephone helpline offering support and information for young people in care, which operates for several years. September 1997 – broadcaster Jon Snow becomes our Honorary President.

  6. 1998

    The charity founds the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Looked After Children and Care Leavers with Hilton Dawson as its first Chair. The first issues it looks at are education, support for care leavers and challenges facing staff in residential care. The charity publishes Remember My Messages, a report analysing what 2,000 children in care aged 10-16 said about their lives in the first largescale survey aimed at establishing the reality of life in care. Jon Snow says at the launch in the House of Commons: ‘This report makes a major contribution to the current high profile debate around children in public care. We will ensure that what these 2,000 children think and feel about their experience is central to decision-making to improve services and influence policy.’

  7. 1999

    The charity runs its Equal Chances programme (with 700 children in care participating) to support local authorities in fulfilling their duty as corporate parents to promote the education of children in care. It includes an audit toolkit for elected members, foster carers and children.

  8. 2000

    The Leaving Care Act 2000 is introduced, creating duties on local authorities in England and Wales to support care leavers, for example Personal Advisers until age 21 (or 25 if in education).

  9. 2002

    The charity launches its Employability Programme aimed at increasing awareness of the disadvantage faced by young people leaving care when seeking access to further education, training and employment. The first Biking for Children in Care event (the brainchild of Gill Timmis) happens with eight people cycling from Land’s End to John O’Groats and raising £30,000 for the charity. The event goes on to become an annual fixture and Gill earns an MBE for her fundraising efforts for us. The charity celebrates its tenth birthday with a reception at Lancaster House, London. Health minister Jacqui Smith MP praises the charity’s many ‘innovative projects’ and its work with the Department of Health and the (then) Department for Education and Skills producing guidance on the education of children in care.

  10. 2002

    In Northern Ireland The Children (Leaving Care) Act 2002 sets out duties local health and social care trusts have to care leavers up to the age of 21.

  11. 2004

    The Children Act 2004 becomes law. It placed a duty on English local authorities to appoint a DCS and an elected lead member for children’s services. It also creates the role of the Children’s Commissioner for England.

  12. 2005

    A version of Who Cares? magazine is launched for younger children. Initially called KLIC (Kids Living in Care), it later changes its name to Who Cares? Junior.

  13. 2007

    Children returning home from care is the theme of a major project run by the charity called ‘Going Home’. This results in an influential report for local authorities setting out a best practice model to achieve the best chance of a successful ‘reunification’.

  14. 2007

    Ofsted's remit was expanded in 2007 to include children's services work relating to social care and the courts, and its full title was changed to reflect this. (England only).

  15. 2007

    The Care Matters White Paper is published. This set out how the Government wanted things to be for children in care. It included things like: expecting every local authority to put in place arrangements for a ‘Children in Care Council’, with direct links to the Director of Children’s Services and Lead Member and piloting the role of the virtual school head in 11 local authorities.

  16. 2008

    Natasha Finlayson becomes Chief Executive. Children’s author Jacqueline Wilson becomes a Patron of the charity, saying ‘It’s good to know that real-life Tracy Beakers are being listened to.’

  17. 2008

    The Children and Young Persons Act 2008 added a new duty in England and Wales to pay a higher education bursary to a former relevant child who pursues higher education in accordance with their pathway plan. It also created the role of a Designated member of staff at school for pupils looked after by a local authority.

  18. 2010

    At the invitation of the Trust, Edward Timpson MP becomes Chair of the APPG for Looked After Children and Care Leavers, a position he holds until 2012 when he becomes Children’s Minister. The charity launches a multimedia campaign called ‘Don’t Write Us Off’, supporting young people to ‘tell the truth’ about life in care and to confront stereotypes about care in a bid to de-stigmatise the system. Care leavers get involved with lobbying parliament, producing a film about care, organising a photography exhibition and developing a campaign website.

  19. 2011

    Our analysis of Access Agreements (designed by the government to justify top universities setting fees of £9,000 a year) for the top 20 English universities reveals that 40% of them do not include specific support for care leavers and that only three of the top 20 English universities have set any kind of target or milestone for increasing participation of care leavers.

  20. 2012

    ‘Our’ APPG joins forces with the APPG for Runaway and Missing Children and Adults to launch an inquiry into the care and support provided for the thousands of children who run away or go missing from care. The inquiry looks at looked-after children who are placed away from their home local authority, data collection and information sharing, police responses and the role of inspection and assessment. Edward Timpson MP, as Chair of the APPG, publishes the report of the APPG’s inquiry into the education of care leavers. Recommendations to improve the educational outcomes of young people in care includes a Pupil Premium Plus, which later becomes a statutory entitlement. The Who Cares? Trust is one of eight charities that come together to launch The Care Inquiry looking into how best to provide stable and permanent homes for children in England who cannot live with their birth parents.

  21. 2012

    The Who Cares? Trust publishes Open Doors Open Minds, which recommended that the role of the Virtual School Head is made statutory.

  22. 2013

    We start our Passport to Parliament project, taking the APPG on a regional roadshow to enable young people from around the country to engage in national political issues and to campaign for the improvements to the care system they want to see. The APPG for Looked-After Children and Care Leavers launches the Entitlements Inquiry to understand the differences between the support those in care and care leavers are entitled to, and what they receive. The inquiry’s report is released in in October, which includes the finding that half of all care leavers don’t think they have a pathway plan (a key legal entitlement). The charity welcomes the announcement of the Staying Put reforms (allowing children to stay with their foster carer until 21) but adds that ‘we mustn’t forget that the 9% of young people in care who live in children’s homes – many of whom leave when they are 16 or 17 – need and deserve the same level of support and we hope that the government will start to look towards ways of achieving this.’

  23. 2014

    Children and Families Act 2014 becomes law. In England it introduces Staying Put – the opportunity for children in care to stay with their former foster carers until they are 21. It also makes the role of the Virtual School Head Statutory and gave the Children’s Commissioner special responsibility for children living away from home.

  24. 2014

    In Scotland the Children and Young People Act 2014 introduced lots of changes to care and aftercare in Scotland. It made certain bodies and organisations in Scotland corporate parents, with corporate parenting responsibilities. It also entitled young people to remain in their current care placement up to their 21st birthday.

  25. 2014

    The Trust launches its H.E. Handbook for Care Leavers, an online guide to the range of support available to them from 140 universities and colleges across England and Scotland. It includes details of bursaries and grants, outreach work and welfare and accommodation support. This will later develops into a website called Propel. Our one-year-on update on the Entitlements Inquiry finds that despite progress in some areas, many young people are still not getting everything they are legally entitled to from their local authority.

  26. 2015

    We publish the findings of our consultation into what young people think about the idea of a form of Staying Put in residential care. Principles of Care, a major report setting out our vision for reform of the care system, is published. We open our Care Advice Line, providing advice and information for any children in care and young care leavers via phone and online. We launch Propel, a website setting out UK universities’ pastoral and financial provision for care leavers, as well as inspirational stories from care-experienced students who have successfully made the transition from care to higher education.

  27. 2016

    We designate 19 February as Care Day, working with the four leading charities for children in care in the other UK nations and the Republic of Ireland. The hashtag #CareDay trends on Twitter! We publish our first free factsheets for young people in care, on themes raised by callers to the Care Advice Line – they prove extremely popular. We publish the factsheets in the top five languages spoken by unaccompanied refugee children arriving in the UK. The Who Cares? Trust becomes… Become!

  28. 2017

    Children and Social Work Act 2017 becomes law. In England it extends the role of the Personal Adviser to 25, introduces corporate parenting principles and a local offer for care leavers.

  29. 2017

    Become launches a groundbreaking new service for care-experienced young people aged 16 - 25. The Become Coaching Programme aims to achieve profound, positive and sustainable improvement in young people’s wellbeing and give them the tools to shape their future with optimism and resilience.

  30. 2017

    We celebrate 25 years as the leading charity for children in care and young care leavers in England!