Young people leaving care are now able to travel for free on Cornwall’s buses to give them better access to work, training or study and getting to appointments, as well help improve mental health and reduce isolation.
After a successful pilot run in Cornwall with the charities Carefree and Barnardo’s, and the bus operators, the council agreed to officially adopt the scheme and now the first passes have been issued to over 90 care leavers with more requests being processed to give pass holders free bus travel in Cornwall.
Feedback from the young people receiving the new bus pass has been overwhelmingly positive.
“The bus pass made me feel free, it’s about getting out there. It gave me hope.”
“In care I couldn’t have the relationship that I wanted with my dad, and I want to be that network for my son that I didn’t have.”
“[As care leavers] we’re independent from a young age and need to be able to get out and about to places.”
Connor Donnithorne, Cornwall Council cabinet portfolio holder for transport said: “It is a real and tangible benefit for young people leaving care to be able to travel for free on Cornwall’s buses. It will help care leavers struggling to meet friends as well as help them to access employment and training opportunities. This initiative helps drive forward our vision for a more inclusive transport network that care leavers and those who need it most can rely on.”
Barbara Ellenbroek, Cornwall Council cabinet portfolio holder for children and families, said: “One of the priorities that underpins everything we do here at the Council is to make sure Cornwall is a brilliant place to be a child and grow up, and this means making sure care leavers have the same opportunities as everyone else, without being hampered by travel costs.”
Sarah Crawley, director of Barnardo’s South West, said: “We are absolutely delighted that Cornwall Council has become one of the first local authorities in England to offer care leavers free bus passes, it will be life changing for young people who can often feel lonely and isolated.
“Barnardo’s launched its ‘Transport for Freedom’ campaign last year asking for all care leavers in England to have access to free bus travel, because young people themselves told us of the huge impact it can have on their lives, being able to travel to meet up with friends and family.
“It also opens up opportunities to further their education, take up employment opportunities and gives them the freedom to shop where they want, rather than have to rely on expensive convenience shops.”
Mari Eggins, CEO of Carefree, said: “Carefree is proud to work in partnership with both Barnardo’s and Cornwall Council, as the Corporate Parent of children in care and care leavers, to effect real change locally.
“It was amazing to undertake the Transport campaign together with young people and now to see the scheme go live. We hope that what we see in Cornwall can contribute to a national focus on helping care experienced people have good lives.”