Portsmouth charity Flying Solo tells stories of care leavers in a bid to promote its work

LEAVING care can be a daunting time for young people.

By Ivan Prothero
Monday, 19th October 2020, 2:41 pm
Updated Wednesday, 21st October 2020, 9:03 pm
Flying Solo, a Portsmouth-based charity, supports care leavers Flying Solo
Flying Solo, a Portsmouth-based charity, supports care leavers Flying Solo

Many face discrimination and find themselves lonely or lacking support, and that’s exactly what one Portsmouth-based charity is trying to tackle.

Flying Solo offers support, encouragement, and financial assistance to care leavers that most people receive from their parents.

The charity is marking National Care Leavers’ Week, which runs from October 26 until November 1, by sharing care leavers’ stories.

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Chairman of Flying Solo Nassar Kessell

Chairman Nassar Kessell, 23, entered care aged 14 and was moved to different carers until he turned 17.

Nassar said: ‘My experience of the care system was very mixed and although statistically I’m one of the successes, I believe this was due to the additional personal support I received from outside social care rather than

those who should have been providing it.’

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Nassar is currently a Liberal Democrat district councillor in West Berkshire as well as a school governor for the Waterloo School.

Nassar has chaired the local Children in Care Council for four years.

He said: ‘Being a care leaver myself, I have seen the challenges we face. From systematic discrimination to preconceived opinions. But Flying Solo is so much more than that and it means so much more to me than that - we want to celebrate the success of care leavers.’

He is calling for more funding from central government.

He said: ‘The government needs to start properly funding social care. So many support services have been cut over the last 10 years and this will inevitably have a negative impact on the outcomes of young people.

‘Care leavers get limited and reduced support from the council, most of the council support is geared towards children’s social care. Care leavers can access support, in some circumstances, until 25. But 90 per cent of council support drops off at 18.’

Flying Solo relies on donations and is run by a group of 10 volunteers.

The charity has secured funding for a helpline and mentoring service, which will launch on December 1 and run until January 10. It will be managed almost entirely by care leavers and will service around 600 people.

Nassar said: ‘With Christmas approaching it is a difficult period for care-experienced people and their mental health is often damaged. When people leave care, they don’t receive anything at Christmas from the council

and most have no family to see over the festive period, this is why we want to tackle the isolation problem.’

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