Islington Council commits to giving all care leavers 12 months’ free wi-fi in national first
Islington Council has become the first local authority in the country to ensure that all young people leaving care in the borough are provided with wi-fi broadband access at home for the first 12 months they live independently.
The commitment is the latest move by the council in its campaign to create a fairer Islington for everyone, and will help address digital poverty among some of the borough’s most vulnerable young people.
The council has given its full backing to the initiative, which is the central element of the Keep Care Leavers Connected campaign. The campaign is spearheaded by the Care Leavers National Movement (CLNM), which is part of The National House Project, a charity helping local councils including Islington to better support care leavers.
In Islington, around 60 young people each year leave care and they will be provided with the vital service for free for the first year, just at the time they are learning to find their feet in the world and live independently.
Cllr Michelline Ngongo, the council’s Executive Member for Children, Young People and Families, said: “As the Keep Care Leavers Connected campaign makes clear, access to wi-fi broadband at home is not a luxury in today’s world – it’s particularly vital in enabling young people to live independently and fully participate in society.
“So many elements of modern life have moved online, whether that’s getting help to set up a business, applying for jobs or online courses, staying in touch with friends or even simple things like registering for banking and council services.
“So it’s only fair that our care leavers are able to get online at home without having to worry about the cost. We’re proud to be the first council in the country to ensure they get this helping hand, enabling them to flourish in the next phase of their lives – and call on others to follow our lead.”
Ibrahim Hassan Ali, chair of the CLNM and an Islington care leaver himself, said: “It’s great to see Islington step up to the plate on such an important issue. This commitment means future care leavers will be able to stay digitally connected with each other and wider society.
“This will be a huge boost for future care leavers in the borough, who now have one less thing to worry about. They can devote their time and energy to building an independent life for themselves – to update that online CV, apply for that job, take that college course, manage those finances and stay in touch with friends.
“I'm really proud of how Islington has led the way and backed our campaign, and look forward to seeing other councils following in their footsteps.”
Mark Warr, chief executive of the National House Project (NHP), said: “Young people identified the challenges arising from not being digitally connected and drove the digital poverty campaign to improve the way young people are supported when they leave care.
“Young people made a powerful video and we are awaiting a debate on digital poverty for care leavers in Westminster Hall to highlight the issues and seek change.
“We are delighted therefore that Islington is the first local authority from the House Project community to make this digital offer available to all their young people when they first leave care. We hope this is the first of many.”
Notes to editor
There are around 80,000 care leavers in England under the age of 26, and every one of them would benefit from having access to an internet-connected device.
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