When Microsoft launched its fledgling Internet Explorer to the public in 1995, few would have guessed the web’s immense impact on society.
For most of us, life today would be unthinkable without internet access at home – it’s a utility, on a par with water, gas and electricity.
But for many care leavers, the expense of setting up Wi-Fi broadband is yet another major hurdle as they learn to live independently and find their feet in the world.
Shouldn’t our care leavers be able to log on at home, where they can get help with setting up a business, update a CV and apply for jobs, take college courses, register for council services, manage their finances and, of course, stay in touch with friends without worrying about the cost?
I’m very proud that Islington Council is the first local authority in the country to ensure that, as part of our offer to all care leavers, access to home Wi-Fi broadband will be provided free for the first 12 months they live independently.
We were the first to answer this call from Ibrahim Hassan Ali, an Islington care leaver and Chair of the Care Leavers National Movement (CLNM) – the young persons’ voice of the National House Project charity, which has spearheaded the Keep Care Leavers Connected campaign.
It aligns perfectly with our campaign to create a fairer Islington for everyone, helps address digital poverty among some of the borough’s most vulnerable young people, and dovetails with the help and support already in place for our care leavers.
As well as our comprehensive offer to care leavers, we were among the first councils to scrap council tax for care leavers to the age of 25. We remain committed to offering new and exciting opportunities to care leavers, including mentor and creative work opportunities. With broadband access nothing less than essential these days, I’m proud to lead the way by backing the CLNM campaign – and urge other councils, as corporate parents for thousands of care leavers across the country, to follow suit.