Our offer

Take a look at our leaving care offer below and find out about what entitlements and support are available to you. If you would like to speak to someone about your offer, then contact your personal advisor or get in touch!

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Our leaving care offer

Employment and Volunteering

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Employment Our Offer to you

We are excited to support you with your short- and long-term employment goals. This will mean different routes for different people. What we want is for you to have the best chance available to secure your dream job, get paid well and have the financial means to pay for your bills and do the things you like to do.

Some people do not wish to continue with their studies and may want to leave school at 16 and seek employment. That’s okay, you may wish to return to your studies in the future. See our education section for information on how we can support you.

Whatever you want to do, we are here to help you and this section will tell you how we can do this and who else can help. We will also provide information on how to apply for a job and what employment, training and volunteering opportunities are available from different organisations and West Sussex County Council.

If you are subject to ‘immigration controls’ you will not usually be able to work. However, there is a chance you could if you have lived in the UK for over a year without any movement on your claim, and you meet the criteria for the Shortage Occupation list- Immigration Rules Appendix Shortage Occupation List – Immigration Rules – Guidance – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

You could also do voluntary work, but your solicitor would need to be consulted and any hours would need to be minimal and worked around college.

  • Careers Advice

    West Sussex County Council offers Careers Advice to young people aged 16-24 years of age who are not in employment, education or training. This is a free service and can help if you do not know exactly what job you want to do or you want to know what route you need to take to secure your dream job.

    To find your Careers Advisor near you go to this website: https://www.westsussex.gov.uk/education-children-and-families/your-space/work/careers-guidance/#contact-your-local-careers-adviser

  • Career Tasters within West Sussex County Council

    West Sussex County Council are offering Career Tasters for you. This is an opportunity to try a job within the council over a period of 12 weeks. Your PA (Personal Advisor) or Social Worker can talk to the right people on your behalf to find out what current Career Taster opportunities are available. You will need to be 16 and over to access this service.

  • Apprenticeships within West Sussex County Council

    You may be interested in Apprenticeships with West Sussex County Council. Please talk to your PA or Social Worker if you would like to learn more about what current opportunities are available within West Sussex County Council.

  • Guaranteed Interviews with West Sussex for our Care Leavers

    West Sussex County Council have a guaranteed interview scheme for Care Leavers, as long as they meet the criteria for the roles. We will ensure you have support to apply and prepare for any interviews with West Sussex County Council.

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Your route to employment

If you have no idea what job you want to do or you know exactly what you want to do, but need some help, this is an exciting step to take and we are here to support you.

This section of the leaving care offer has 3 purposes:

  • Showing you what support is available
  • A step-by-step guide to applying for a job
  • Sharing employment opportunities

Applying for a job is exciting. Your PA, Social Worker, Foster Carer, Keyworker, school, college and Work Coach will be able to talk to you about what work you may like to do and how you can be supported to achieve this.

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Your 5 steps to employment

Here are the 5 main steps to getting a job:

Step 1: Pathway Plan

From the age of 16, your Pathway Plan will capture what you would like to do for a job in the future, what route you need to take to achieve this and who will support you. When you are under 18, your Social Worker will complete the Pathway Plan with you. When you are over 18, your PA will do this. This plan will be reviewed at least every 6 months to ensure you are on track and receiving the right support.

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Step 2: Speaking to a Careers Advisor

Your PA can support you to get in touch with West Sussex Career Advisors or Job Centre Work Coaches in your area. These services will be able to help you think about what sort of jobs might be right for you and provide you with advice, coaching and support needed to secure a job.

Careers advisors and Work Coaches can match your skills and interests to career pathways and help you plan the steps to getting a job. Your PA can support and encourage you with these steps.

See your Careers Advisor and Work Coach as someone who is teaching you how to drive a car, your PA or Social Worker is sat in the back seat encouraging and supporting you.

The support they can offer includes:

  • Finding out more for you about the career you are interested in
  • Qualifications and/or experience needed for different jobs
  • Writing a CV and covering letters
  • Looking at work experience, career tasters or volunteering opportunities.
  • Provide information on Traineeships and Apprenticeships.
  • Preparing for an interview

Every Job Centre currently has a Youth Employment Coach who specialises in supporting those who are under 25 who may be struggling to overcome barriers to seeking employment. You also have available a Single Point of Contact for Care Leavers.

Youth Hubs- Pre-Careers Advice Service

If you do not feel ready for careers advice, but want to know more about possibly getting a job in the future, speak to your PA or Work Coach. Work Coaches can refer you to a Local Youth Hub for pre-work training, support and advice. This service is available to help you take the first steps on your journey to future employment.

Step 3: Seek Specialist Advice

Getting support is great, the more people that can help you achieve your goal the better. This is what your third step is all about.

Dependent on the job you’re looking for you may need some additional support. You have to consider two things;

To explain this, if you think about an astronaut, a chef and a taxi driver, they are all very different jobs and require specialist knowledge.

No one person will know everything about how to get these jobs. You can talk to your PA, Work Coach, Careers Advisor to seek further advice.

There are two things we would suggest doing to get specialist advice;

  1. Contact companies that you would like to work for and speak to their Human Resource (HR) department you can ask them what specific experience you need and if they know of any opportunities
  2. Ask if they will read your CV and cover letter

A great organisation for also supporting you with CVs and cover letters is Youth Employment UK and you can find there support at this website: https://www.youthemployment.org.uk

To know about more organisations that can support you jump to section ‘4.3 What you need to start’ and ‘4.4 Finding a job’ in this offer.


Step 4: Get the Essentials

The fourth step is all about ensuring you have the essentials to search and apply for jobs. Work Coaches, Careers Advisors, PAs, Keyworkers, Social Workers and Foster Carers, can help you to ensure you have all the essentials ready before applying for a job and then supporting you to search for jobs. If you are struggling with IT to do the applications forms, training or searches for jobs, speak to your Work Coach to explore your options of support available to you.

Getting the essentials together is important before you can start looking for and applying for jobs.

The things you need are:

Finding a job

This section is all about where you need to go when you’re looking for a job. At this point you should have a CV, a form of identification, bank account and National Insurance Number. If you don’t have these yet, don’t worry, just read section ‘3.3 The Essentials’ and that is a simple guide for you and your PA.

Find It Out Centre

If you are 16-25 and need help looking for a job or apprenticeship, or finding suitable education or training the ‘Find It Out Centre’ can help. They are a West Sussex service so they know the local area and all the opportunities close to you. They can help with:

To access their services, you just need to fill out an online form and they will find a time to speak with you. You can fill out the form here: https://www.westsussex.gov.uk/education-children-and-families/your-space/support/support-for-young-people/neet-request-for-support/

Job Centre Plus

The Job Centre Plus is a government funded employment agency and social security office that can be found in most cities. The aim of this service is to help people of working age find employment in the UK. They provide resources to enable job-searchers to find work, through Jobpoints (touchscreen computer terminals), Jobseeker-Direct (telephone service) and the Jobcentre Plus website. They also offer information about training for people who have been unemployed for a long time and support with benefit claims.

You can visit the job centre website and see what support is available in your area: https://jobhelp.campaign.gov.uk

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Prospects are experts in graduate careers, they are designed to support students who have graduated to find work, however they also offer support in work experience, careers guidance and more. Some of the things they offer are:

  • Work experience
  • Volunteering experiences
  • Summer jobs
  • Shadowing
  • Internships
  • Gap year opportunities

To find out more about what Prospects can offer visit: https://www.prospects.ac.uk/jobs-and-work-experience/work-experience-and-internships

Care Leavers Covenant

The Care Leaver Covenant is a government programme that helps care leavers aged 16-25 to live independently by creating meaningful opportunities for care leavers in 5 areas:

  1. Independent Living
  2. Education, Employment and Training
  3. Safety & Security
  4. Mental and Physical Health
  5. Finance

If you want to see what current employment opportunities are available visit: https://mycovenant.org.uk/for-care-leavers/care-leaver-opportunities/

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Reed Talent Solutions

Reed Talent Solutions have various work opportunities for you to explore, as they are a recruitment company these opportunities vary and you can find a lot! They support care leavers in obtaining a job and will provide access to current vacancies, as well as provide CV support, mock interviews, and general job-seeking advice. The best way to see how Reed can help is to email them asking for support to find a job, they will call you back and see how they can help.

To access this support contact: CareLeavers.Support@reed.com

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Job search websites

There are various job websites available that list all the opportunities that are available in your area. You will be able to search for a job and apply directly online, you can also just send them your CV and they can also search on your behalf!

Some of these websites include:

Handing out CVs

Before the internet existed, people would go and hand out their CVs! It can be nerve wracking going into a place and just handing over your CV, but it leaves a great impression, it shows your committed, dedicated to find a job and willing to put in the extra work.

Applying for a job

Once you have found a job that you like there are a number of steps to take next to enable you to apply, all jobs are different but they mostly have the same requirements to apply. This could be to fill out an application form, provide a cover letter and have an interview. This section gives you some helpful advice, shows who you can get support from and what we will offer you too.

Remember your Careers Advisor and PA will be able to help you with this. We have also used Prospects to develop the guidance for this section because they offer really clear and easy to follow advice, at the end of the sections we have included links for you.

  • Application forms

    Some of jobs will require you to fill out an application form, the questions that they ask you are to be designed to find out:

    • Personal information
    • Educational background
    • Work experience
    • Competency

    This is very similar to your CV, the only difference here is the questions they ask you may be designed to understand your knowledge and passion about the company and the sector you are looking to work for.

    A useful guide you can read about application forms can be found here: https://www.prospects.ac.uk/careers-advice/applying-for-jobs/write-a-successful-job-application

  • Cover letters

    Cover letters are very common you will find yourself writing one at some point. These are designed for you to express your interest freely about why you want to apply for the job, what you think you can bring to the role and your understanding of the job you’re applying to do.

    It’s a good challenge to learn how to write them and here are some points that will help and guide you:

    • First paragraph – The opening statement should set out why you’re writing the letter. Begin by stating the position you’re applying for, where you saw it advertised and when you are available to start.
    • Second paragraph – Highlight relevant experience and demonstrate how your skills match the specific requirements of the job description. Summarise any additional strengths and explain how these could benefit the company.
    • Third paragraph – Cover why you’re suitable for the job, what attracted you to this type of work, why you’re interested in working for the company and what you can offer the organisation. This is a good opportunity to show off your knowledge of the company.
    • Last paragraph – Use the closing paragraph to round up your letter. Reiterate your interest in the role and indicate your desire for a personal interview. Now is the time to mention any unavailable dates.

    For more guidance on how to write cover letters visit Prospects as they have a useful guide here: https://www.prospects.ac.uk/careers-advice/cvs-and-cover-letters/cover-letters

  • Interviews

    Everyone will have an interview for a job, it’s an opportunity for you to meet with the employer and discuss the job.

    Some of the types of interviews you will have are:

    • Face-to-face
    • Telephone
    • Video

    Some of the things you might be asked are:

    • Tell me a little about yourself?
    • Why do you want to work here?
    • What are your strengths/weaknesses?
    • How do you prioritise work?
    • Tell us when you have dealt with a difficult a situation?
    • What are your goals?
    • What would you bring to this role?
    • What do you want to take from this role?

    Although the employer will be asking you most of the questions, you will have chance to ask questions yourself and we would recommend that you do this as it shows you’re interested. Some good questions to ask them are:

    • Can you tell me about the day-to-day responsibilities?
    • How could I impress you in the first 3 months?
    • Are there opportunities for training and progression?
    • How would you describe the culture of the organisation?
    • Can you tell me about the team I will be working with?

    If you want more advice about interviews, visit Prospects interview tips here: https://www.prospects.ac.uk/careers-advice/interview-tips

  • Setbacks and feedback

    Everyone has set backs, this is a normal part of life and will happen more than once. If you are unsuccessful in your job application this can feel disappointing. Being unsuccessful doesn’t mean that you are not good enough or that you couldn’t have done the job well.

    It can be easy to allow this to knock your confidence and put you off applying for other jobs, we don’t see it like this, we see it as an opportunity to ask for feedback, learn what you can do differently and develop yourself based on the feedback.

    Questions you could ask are:

    • Can you give me some feedback on my interview?
    • What could I do differently next time?
    • What were my strengths?
    • Can you consider me for future positions?

    This shows you’re willing to deal with setbacks with resilience, take positive learning opportunities from them and it will leave a good impression on the organisation you wanted to work for.

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Your first day at work

Everyone’s first day at work will be different dependant on what job you have got. This section outlines the support we can give you no matter what job you have!

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Up to £500 for things you may need when starting a new job!

You might need things to get you started at work, again this very dependent on what job you have. We can buy some things for you with the Education and Employment Support Allowance and first month’s travel, this can include;

You will know what you need, you just need to speak to your PA and they will be able to support you with this. They can also explore other organisations that can support with work equipment and getting to work including the Department of Work and Pensions.

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A traineeship is a course with work experience that gets you ready for work or an apprenticeship. It can last from 6 weeks up to 1 year, though most traineeships last for less than 6 months.

You can apply if you’re:

  • eligible to work in England
  • unemployed and have little or no work experience
  • aged 16 to 24 and qualified up to and including Level 3 (equivalent to A Level)

You’ll get:

  • help with getting work, such as writing a CV and finding a job
  • a work placement of 70 hours or more
  • help with the skills you’ll need for an apprenticeship or job in the area you want to work in
  • a job interview or feedback from an employer
  • help with English, maths and basic digital skills (if you need it)

You won’t be paid, but you may be given expenses for things like travel and meals.

You can apply for a traineeship directly though the Government website: https://www.gov.uk/find-traineeship


An apprenticeship is a real job where you learn, gain experience and get paid.

It can take between one and 6 years to complete an apprenticeship depending on which one you choose, what level it is and your previous experience.

Each apprenticeship has a level and an equivalent education level.

At the end of your apprenticeship, you’ll achieve the equivalent education level. For example, if you complete a level 3 apprenticeship, you’ll achieve the equivalent of an A level.

Level Equivalent education level
Intermediate 2 GCSE
Advanced 3 A level
Higher 4,5,6 and 7 Foundation degree and above
Degree 6 and 7 Bachelor’s or Master’s degree/td>

Apprenticeships are available in most organisations and you will find a lot to choose from. To find an apprenticeship just visit: https://www.apprenticeships.gov.uk

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Volunteering is a great way to gain experience, learn new skills and do something good. Being a volunteer means that you give your time for free to help out with something meaningful.

Employers like to see volunteering on a CV as it shows them that you’re willing and dedicated to develop your skills, and people who volunteer are often recognised as good people!

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Vinspired is an organisation that offer volunteering opportunities across the UK. Pretty much every volunteering position you can think of they will have! If you want to do something meaningful, develop your skills and gain experience then look for a volunteering experience at: https://vinspired.com

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