Katie Hatton, from Merseyside, is a Young Researcher with The Prince’s Trust.

The Young Researchers scheme is just one part of our five-year From Care to Independence project; an initiative funded by The Big Lottery Fund, which seeks to understand ‘what works’ in supporting care leavers into positive outcomes.

We spoke to Katie, who is herself a care leaver, during National Care Leavers’ Week 2016, which saw professionals from across the sector unite to share expertise and ideas on working with care leavers. Here, Katie tells us why she is supporting our From Care to Independence project.

Katie Hatton, Young Researcher on our Care to Independence project

“I’ve lived in two children’s homes and six foster homes since the age of seven, so have experienced first-hand some of the challenges facing young people who are in or leaving care.

“I’ve always wanted to help other young people in care, which is why I am very involved with the Care Leavers' Council, Wirral. If we see something in the system and we don’t like it, we push to change it.​

When I heard The Prince’s Trust was looking for Young Researchers as part of its From Care to Independence project, which is all about trying to improve things for other care leavers, I knew I wanted to be part of it.

"My role as a Young Researcher involves conducting research with care leavers and professionals. The Prince’s Trust is working with Youth Focus North West to gather data for the Young Researchers scheme through interviews, focus groups and workshops.

"I recently helped to run some workshops with young people who are in care and leaving care, so we could get a better understanding of the challenges they face.

The young people in the workshop included some who had completed The Trust’s Fairbridge programme. They emphasised they often need support with general life skills – things other people might take for granted – and how they also need help with trying to set up in a first home.

"I could personally relate to a lot of the things raised during the workshop. I knew how to use a washing machine and cook for myself by the time I left care, but as for knowing how to deal with basic bills and what council tax or water rates were - that was totally new to me. 

"Having the confidence and maturity to deal with these things isn't easy for all 18 year-olds and is often even harder for those leaving care.

“The Young Researchers will write a report based on our findings and I look forward to seeing this when it's published next year.

Initiatives like National Care Leavers’ Week, which encourage care leavers to share their experiences with professionals working in the sector, also play an important role in exploring the needs of care leavers and how best to support them.

"By bringing together the views and experiences of everyone from social services to charities to care leavers themselves, we can find out what’s working and what more needs to be done to give young people in care the best possible start in their adult life.

"Together, we can drive positive changes that will help more of these young people to thrive when they stand on their own two feet for the first time”.

Are you a care leaver looking for support? Find out about our range of courses, including the Fairbridge programme.

Find out more about National Care Leavers' Week and other help for care leavers.