How far would £24 a week get you?

As part of National Care Leavers’ week (28th October-1st November), Sheffield Care Leavers’ Union is challenging people to live on the average weekly budget that some young people who have recently left care have to spend on food, drink, fun and non-essential travel.

The Reality Cheque Challenge has been designed by members of the Sheffield Care Leavers’ Union (SCLU for short), a voice and influence group made up of care leavers aged 18-25, and aims to highlight the struggle that many care leavers face in managing their finances.

Sheffield Leaving Care Service provides financial and practical support for care leavers in setting up their home and entering employment, education or training, however this can be difficult for some young people who may also have to navigate the benefits system.

The Reality Cheque Challenge asks people to live for five days on the average budget of a care leaver accessing universal credit, who has around £24 to spend after paying for accommodation and essential living costs like household bills.

Participants will record their experiences in a daily diary and will also be asked to submit a budget-friendly recipe, which will be compiled into a cookbook to be given to young people as they move into independence.

The rules of the challenge include set items that must be bought to reflect the reality of budgeting, including one toiletry item and one cleaning product. Other rules include not being able to use food you already have, apart from ‘store cupboard essentials’ such as condiments and tea and coffee.

Councillor Jackie Drayton, Cabinet Member for Children, Young People and Families, said:

“It’s always challenging setting out to live on your own and trying to manage, paying, rent bills, buying food and trying to have a social life too! – and it can be very easy to fall into a cycle of debt. Unfortunately we know that it can be more difficult for young people leaving care, that’s why we provide our care leavers with as much support and guidance as possible around budgeting and money managing and balancing your budget whilst living and enjoying life – but we know it’s not easy.”

“I’m so proud that members of our Care Leavers Union have come up with this ingenious project to highlight the struggle that many care leavers face and to raise awareness of the challenge of living on a small budget.”

“I’m looking forward to taking up the ‘Reality Cheque’ Challenge and would encourage others to do the same – to learn what it’s like for young people stepping out into the world on their own for the very first time and then to pass on their own tips and advice that might help young people survive.”

The Reality Cheque Challenge starts on the 28th October 2019.

You can sign up at Reality Cheque Challenge 2019

Share your experiences and top tips throughout the week by using #realitycheque on social media.