Plymouth Labour is seeking to ensure people who have been in care get the same protection under the Equality Act as other discriminated groups.
Cllr Jemima Laing, who is Plymouth Labour’s spokesperson on Children and Young People, is bringing a motion to full council on Monday asking the council to treat care experience as it treats other protected characteristics like gender and race.
The recent Independent Review of Children’s Social Care put together by Josh McAlister recommended that care experience should be a protected characteristic following lobbying by people with experience of the system.
“This is precisely the right thing to be asking the council to do,” said Cllr Laing, who is a Stoke ward councillor.
“I have been very impressed by the work of Terry Galloway who is care experienced himself and has done a great deal of lobbying on this issue.
“We as councillors are all corporate parents, as are the officers of the council, and it is incumbent on all of us to be the very best parents to them we can be, as we would for our own children. I hope this motion will pass on Monday, making Plymouth the first council in the South West to do so.”
The motion includes stark statistics about the issues care experienced people face including that a UCL study showed 70% of care experienced people die early, over 50% of people who are in custody up to the age of 21 have been in care and a quarter of the homeless population is care experienced.
Cllr Dylan Tippetts, who is seconding the motion, said: “Recognising the challenges our care experienced young people face on a day to day basis should be simple.
“Through recognising care experience as if it were a protected characteristic, we can help empower future generations to feel comfortable about their stories so they can focus on thriving knowing the council, their corporate parent, will take them into account when making important decisions.”
The campaign to make care experience a protected characteristic was inspired by the work of Terry Galloway, who was in over 100 different placements as a child.
Terry said: “Plymouth have their backs to the sea, they are fighters. And on this day in March 2023 elected representatives are fighting for the rights of the most marginalised in society.
“I take inspiration and note the significance of this motion passing here in Plymouth where Nancy Astor was the first female member of parliament to take her seat against all odds.
“This motion feels ground-breaking because it is giving voice to those that have nothing, those that have no voice, those who could be destined for tragedy.
“This is the first council in the South West and a place dear to my heart. Making Care Experience a Protected Characteristic will mean equality impact assessments create root and branch systemic change.
“Imagine a time when Nancy was alive, and woman had no rights or voice. This is the time care experienced people live in right now. Thank you, Plymouth.”