LAST week I gave up tickets I had to Monty Python Live to go to the Assembly debate on the Housing Bill.
It might not have been quite as entertaining, but it was worth it because I successfully convinced the Government to make some real improvements to the Bill for young people who have been in care.
Currently 30 per cent of those in the homeless system were in care as children.
I think this is shameful; we are failing some of the most vulnerable young people in our society.
Without the love and support that many of us take for granted, care leavers are statistically less likely than other children to achieve academic success and more likely to have problems with crime, drugs and mental health.
One third of care leavers are not in education, employment or training compared with 13 per cent of all young people.
I know that if any of my children were threatened with becoming homeless, I’d let them move home to help them get back on their feet without a second thought. But young people who have been in care often do not have that sort of support system to help them if they get into trouble.
Problems with budgeting or dealing with landlords can spiral out of control and trap them in a cycle of homelessness it is very difficult to escape.
We need to break that cycle.
To prevent care leavers from becoming homeless in the first place we need to make sure they are supported. With help from Barnardo’s, I submitted a number of amendments to the Housing Bill that would entitle care leavers under the age of 25 to assistance and advice from housing authorities to help them maintain their tenancies even before they are at threat of homelessness.
I was thrilled when the Government decided to make these suggested changes to the Bill. I’m very grateful for the help Barnardo’s gave me in drafting the amendments and for all their supporters who emailed their AMs to campaign for the changes.
I think we should all be proud that young people in Wales who have been in care will receive some of the help they need to thrive as they make the transition to adulthood.