York businesses help support local young people leaving care

Young care leavers in York have been able to learn new skills, increase their independence and get life-enriching experiences thanks to the support of local businesses.

City of York Council has been working with local businesses to help care leavers gain access to work experience, training and employment opportunities.

The partnership has included GMI’s bespoke ‘Construction Cares’ Programme at York College, led by GMI Construction Group PLC, enabling young people to improve their DIY skills as they transition into independent living. Activities included learning how to hang shelves, putting on locks and door handles and painting and decorating.

GMI Construction Group PLC is one of a host of organisations across the UK which have signed up to the Care Leaver Covenant and is a Signatory Partner. The covenant is a national initiative which supports care leavers aged 16-25 to live independently, creating education, employment and training opportunities.

Businesses, education providers and other organisations can sign up to the Covenant to pledge their practical support to care leavers.

Other businesses across the city have offered support for care leavers in other ways, including providing work experience opportunities, Christmas gifts and tickets to local sporting events.

Cllr Bob Webb, City of York Council’s Executive Member for Children, Young People and Education, said:

“The local and regional businesses we’ve been working with have already demonstrated how keen they are to provide opportunities for our care leavers and it’s fantastic to see the city supporting its own.

“I know that many other local businesses may want to get involved but may not know where to start. I’d encourage them to look at the care leaver inclusive employment guide [toolkit] on the care leavers’ covenant website or get in touch with our dedicated employment and opportunities lead for care leavers in York who will be able to advise them how they can best help.

“Care leavers have been supported by social workers and foster carers for periods of time during their childhoods because they weren’t able to live with their birth families. This may mean they have fewer opportunities compared to their non-care experienced peers when they reach 18 years of age. That’s why it’s so important that we pull together as a city to nurture them through early adulthood, just as the parents of any young person would do.”

Claire Preston – Head of Responsible Business @ GMI Construction Group PLC, explained:

“GMI Construction Group PLC created their bespoke ‘Construction Cares Programme’ in 2023 and have so far delivered this programme in Birmingham, Manchester and York and have had over 55 care leavers attend.   It is so important to teach young people life skills so they can adapt them when moving into a home of their own.  Three care leavers from the programme have gone into full-time apprenticeships and four have signed up for a Construction qualification.  

“I really believe that companies of all sizes can create support offers for care leavers.  If you can get senior buy-in and you have the will to support young people, you can overcome challenges that SMEs might face in signing up to programmes like the Covenant.”

For more information on signing up to the Care Leavers’ Covenant, including to access the inclusive employment guide, visit

To get in touch with the council’s employment and opportunities broker for care leavers, email