ISOLATION and boredom during lockdown have led to a rise in the number of care leavers who are facing mental health struggles - a new report has revealed.

The Bradford Council report says that although care leavers have “done Bradford proud” by following lockdown rules since March, the situation has led to many seeing a decline in their mood and mental health, with many facing loneliness and isolation.

There have also been a rise in those who have been reported as self harming.

There are currently 643 care leavers in Bradford - young people who have been in Council care as children but are now, after turning 18, moving towards independence with the support of the Authority.

161 are currently living independently.

Treat bags a boost for Bradford's young care leavers in coronavirus crisis

At a meeting of Bradford Council’s Corporate Parenting Panel on Monday, members will be given an update on how these care leavers are coping during the Covid 19 pandemic.

The report points out that care leavers can be among some of the most disadvantaged young people in the district, and although they still receive Council support, the feelings of isolation facing many during lockdown are amplified for children who are often living by themselves for the first time.

The report says: “Bradford care leavers have done their city proud during the lockdown period, in the main most young people have abided by lockdown rules and restrictions. All young people at the point of lockdown were encouraged to ‘stay at home’ and the service be brought to them. There has been a good level of responses from the Bradford community, voluntary sector and wider Council services to our young people.”

Despite extra support being provided, including an extra £10 a week on top of an extra £20 per week in Universal Credit, many have struggled with the huge changes of lockdown on top of the pressures of moving out of the care system and into independence.

The report says: “There has been an increase in young people struggling with their emotional wellbeing and mental health.

“We have seen an increase in serious self harming episodes, young people in crisis or generally low mood.”

There has also been an increase in young people accessing mental health support services.

It adds: “Young people living independently have unsurprisingly struggled the most with feelings of isolation and boredom. Some young people living independently have required additional support to help them manage their emotional well-being and mental health. Within the group of young people living independently the most economically vulnerable have been young people who were in low income employment, zero hour contracts or apprenticeships where furlough rules did not apply.”

Members of the panel will also be told that seven of the young people have tested positive for Covid 19, two of which had to be hospitalised.

The service has also supported eight young people who presented to the Council as homeless during the period.

The extra funding has been used to help young people pay for heating and electricity and wifi to provide some connection to others despite lockdown.