Making the jump from care to college

Moving from care to living independently can be particularly challenging. You might be used to living with a lot of other people around your age group, moving around regularly or having frequent contact with social services.

Moving out on your own could understandably seem overwhelming, especially if, like Jojo in our video, you’re only 16 when you get the keys to your own place. But don’t forget – it’s a great opportunity too.

To help you to prepare for the reality of your big move, we’ve spoken to Jojo about what he learned through making the jump from care to living independently at college.

Let’s recap on Jojo’s 8 top tips for moving out:

1. Be prepared to feel lonely

  • You’ll have a lot more time to yourself when you move out and, if you’re used to spending time around lots of people, this can be pretty tough. Taking up a hobby, starting a new project or joining a group are all great ways to combat loneliness.

2. Don’t let the past define your future

  • The past is done, and it’s never too early to start thinking about your future and your career. A good place to start is by identifying what it is you love to do and what your dream job would be. Then work backwards: what qualifications or experience do you need to get there?

3. Take your social worker with you on college enrolment day

  • They’ll be able to talk to your tutors and let them know about your circumstances - if you need extra support or a closer eye, for example.

4. Speak to your college's learning support services

  • They’re there to help and may be able to offer you extra support. You won’t know if you don’t ask.

5. Check out your council’s support

  • Some councils offer grants to young people who have been in care and continue in education. Find out if you'll benefit and, if you do, spend your grant wisely.

6. Make friends

  • College and university life provides many opportunities to make new friends. Don’t pass them over. Living independently can be lonely sometimes, so you’ll want people to call up or invite around from time to time.

7. Research your financial options

  • There will be lots of new financial lingo to get your head around when you move out. You can find lots of information online - try visiting our Bitesize Support pages for great advice and support around money issues.

8. Save money

  • Saving is sensible – you know this, we don’t really need to tell you! Putting a little bit away every week or month will give you something to fall back on if you need it and will help you to feel that little bit more safe and secure.

As Jojo says,

The past doesn't define your future.

But being prepared for the reality of what life after care is like will stand you in good stead. So, take Jojo’s tips on board and remember - you’ve got this!

If you need support

You should always tell someone about the things you’re worried about. You can tell a friend, parent, guardian, teacher, or another trusted adult. If you're struggling with your mental health, going to your GP can be a good place to start to find help. Your GP can let you know what support is available to you, suggest different types of treatment and offer regular check-ups to see how you’re doing.

If you’re in need of in-the-moment support you can contact Childline, where you can speak to a counsellor. Their lines are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

There are more links to helpful organisations on BBC Action Line.

What I’ve learnt from going it alone
Moving in with the parents: a survivor's guide
How to do the weekly shop on a budget