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 this year to enable young people leaving care to contribute directly to local government policy. 

The Scholarship will provide necessities – such as money for a day bus fare, lunch and dinner, and a work and interview outfit – so that the young people can carry out their internship at CCC.

We are raising funds by selling CUSPE merchandise. 100% of the proceeds will go towards the CUSPE Scholarship. 

To support this scholarship, please visit:

About the Scholarship

Care leavers are adults who have spent time living in care. These young people 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 will be published in November.

One of the key findings from the report – highlighted by young people in interviews with the researchers – was the issue of “basics”. In Cambridgeshire, there are many aspirational young people leaving care who want to spend more time working towards their goals but require more support. Some lack necessities, such as having enough money for rent or food.

Young people leaving care normally face a difficult transition into adulthood. They often must overcome several hurdles when they leave care. The support given to so many young people in Cambridge from guardians when moving away from home – being dropped off at university, getting help buying homeware, and going home for a weekend or Christmas – is not available to these young people.

CUSPE hopes that the work experience will strengthen the Scholar’s CV and allow them to learn more about how to improve the care leaver system in Cambridgeshire. 

No one knows the care system better than the young people that lived through it, so who better to shape it than them?

If you have any further questions or would like to make a donation, please message:

CUSPE Vice President: