There were cheers and loud applause in County Hall as Devon’s young care leavers were given a ‘second chance’, writes Guy Henderson.

Devon County Council is to do more to prevent young people who have been in the care of the local authority being discriminated against.

At their full meeting this week members heard from a number of care leavers about their experiences. One said his teachers told him he would end up in prison.

Another teenage care leaver who spoke during the meeting said afterwards: “Today is literally a day in history for care-experienced people in Devon.

“We all did something amazing, and what we’ve done means that other young people will be able to get the opportunities they deserve. It means we have a second chance, an opportunity, and that is something we can all be proud of.”

Studies have shown that 70 per cent of care experienced people die early and that more than half of the people who are in custody up to the age of 21 have been in care.

A quarter of the homeless population has been in care.

County councillors unanimously backed a motion which means it will do more to ensure that such young people are not discriminated against. It will make sure that the experiences of young people in care and care leavers will be considered in all of its decisions.

The motion acknowledges that young people’s experience of the care system can be a potential source of discrimination similar to other protected characteristics such as race or disability.

Cllr Julian Brazil (Lib Dem, Kingsbridge) said Devon’s county and district councils were working together on strategies for housing, and making care leavers exempt from council tax.

He told the speakers: “We hope the experience that some of you have had won’t be experienced by those following in your footsteps.

“You are a credit to yourselves, and a credit to Devon.”