In our recent study of care leavers and Covid in Ireland we interviewed 16 young people (aged 18-27) to explore the issues they faced, what helped, and what they learned about themselves during Covid-19. 

The pandemic brought fresh challenges to the lives of the young people we interviewed. Some felt more isolated, struggled with disrupted routines, and had fears about what the future held for them. It brought home for many how tough it can be relying on yourself, even where there may be support and goodwill waiting to be tapped. There were worries for some about money, accommodation, and mental health. But there were also some mentions of silver linings during the Covid-19 pandemic.  

Many care leavers told us they had found resources in themselves and their networks that had built up their confidence and helped them get through. Something as simple as a new hobby or interest could make quite a difference.  

The study highlighted how crucial supportive relationships were and are. Support from friends and family was mentioned a lot, although the young people also valued the support of mental health and aftercare services, among others. There was also frequent reference to the threat of precarity in their lives – uncertainties about accommodation or mental health or not having support when required. The need for support was not tied to age. Eligibility for aftercare may be time limited, but often need is not. We met people who had aged out of aftercare who worried about managing without the back up of aftercare services.  The study shone light on the care leavers’ experience of Covid but also gave us new insights into wider issues in their lives.

This research was undertaken in partnership with Empowering People in Care (EPIC).

Access and read the full report below.

About the authors

Professor Robbie Gilligan, Professor of Social Work and Social Policy, School of Social Work and Social Policy, Trinity College Dublin.
Contact: @RobbieGilligan

Dr Eavan Brady, Assistant Professor in Social Work, School of Social Work and Social Policy, Trinity College Dublin
Contact: @eavanrb

You may also be interested in earlier studies from these authors.