Four in five children in care ‘move with belongings in binbags’
Wednesday, January 19, 2022
Most children in care are forced to take their belongings in bin bags when they move home, according to the National Youth Advocacy Service (NYAS).
A study by the children’s rights charity has found that four in five looked after children have their possessions moved in bin bags when they change homes.
Meanwhile, three in five children in care say their belongings have been lost or damaged during a move and only one in three councils has formal guidance in place for staff to support looked after children when they move.
NYAS is calling on councils to ensure that children in care are treated with “dignity and respect when they move”.
It found that in 2020 there were 184 complaints made by children in care against councils related to moving home. This represents one in five of all complaints made by looked-after children against local authorities.
One care leaver, 18-year-old Daniel, said having his possessions moved in binbags “felt humiliating”.
“It made me feel like I was worthless just as rubbish is,” he said.
“How can a child who has gone through years of trauma be treated in such an inhumane way? Moving my whole life, sentimental items gifted by my mum, in black binbags made me feel like I was the issue. People identified I was in care.
"A suitcase would have made me feel safe. I would have felt like a human, a person who was cared for.”
Another young person with experience of care, Beth, now aged 20, said: “I felt like I had no identity, everything I owned was in a bin bag. I felt like nobody cared.”
The charity is calling for local authorities in England and Wales local authorities to sign up to its My Things Matter pledge, to better support children who have to move home and in particular “so they don’t have their belongings moved in bin bags”. This also gives councils access to free travel bags to help children.
Introducing #MyThingsMatter 🎒— NYASservices (@NYASServices) January 18, 2022
A NYAS campaign that aims to work with local authorities across England & Wales to make the moving experience as positive as possible for young people in care 🏠
Read Our Report ➡️ https://t.co/fIWpFXeXmZ
#changingyounglives #movewithdignity pic.twitter.com/YNdu1mHNT3
Among local authorities to already sign the pledge, is Neath Port Talbot Council.
According to the NYAS, a child in care moves home in England and Wales every 20 minutes.
“All too often for children in care, they have a negative experience when moving from one home to another; it’s not good enough and needs to change,” said NYAS group chief executive Rita Waters.
“That is why the NYAS ‘My Things Matter’ campaign is asking local authorities to help make the moving experience as good as it can be for children and young people.”