The Cambridge University Science and Policy Exchange (CUSPE) Scholarship will provide funding for young people leaving care to complete hands-on paid work experience with Cambridgeshire County Council (CCC). 

Research undertaken through the CUSPE Policy Challenges programme highlighted the barriers faced by young people leaving care when transitioning to independent living. As a consequence of this work, this scholarship programme has been created to enable care-experienced young people to help others leaving care by directly contributing to the support and guidance provided by the local government. 

About the Scholarship

Care-experienced young people are adults who have spent time living in care and are typically aged between 16 and 25 when they leave care. Cambridgeshire County Council has a duty of care towards these young people and acts as their corporate parents. Every policy decision made by the council has a direct impact on the everyday and long-term lives of these young people – as a parent would when making decisions for their children.

CUSPE runs a Policy Challenge programme every year in collaboration with CCC. We provide teams of early-career researchers who volunteer their time to investigate important policy issues, in areas ranging from climate change to social care.

In 2020, five researchers wrote an evidence-based report with actionable policy recommendations on how to improve the support given to care leavers during their transition to independent adulthood, focusing on the shift from education to employment. 

The report tackles issues such as housing and homelessness, finances and employment, and mental health, emphasising steps that CCC can take to improve the lives of young people leaving care. It was published in May 2022 and is available on the CCC website here.

Young people leaving care normally face a difficult transition into adulthood. One of the key findings of the report was that many young people leaving care experience barriers to employment. These barriers are complex and are influenced by multiple factors. As such, helping young people leaving care to gain skills, experience and confidence is important to assist them in entering the labour market. CUSPE hopes that the work experience will strengthen the Scholar’s CV and allow them to contribute to improving the care leaver system in Cambridgeshire.