Voluntary Sector Review
An international journal of third sector research, policy and practice

Reinventing selves and connections through community volunteering: how care leavers and their supporters create a space for agency and self-work

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  • 1 Manchester Metropolitan University, , UK
  • | 2 Greater Manchester Centre for Voluntary Organisation (GMCVO), , UK
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Young people leaving out-of-home care experience higher levels of emotional, social, educational and vocational disadvantage when compared with peers from stable home-care environments. Care leavers’ educational trajectories may be interrupted, their development of self-identity during transition through adolescence disturbed, and their social and emotional development disrupted due to their diminished accumulation of social and cultural capital. This article presents a re-analysis of the qualitative data derived from a mixed-method study of the experience of young care leavers engaged with a community-based volunteering project in the United Kingdom. We describe how young care leavers developed self-efficacy through volunteering and show how care leavers create a space for agency and self-work, negotiate and cultivate identities independent from statutory supports, and situate themselves within wider relational and social contexts. Implications for future research, policy and practice with younger people leaving statutory care are explored.

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  • 1 Manchester Metropolitan University, , UK
  • | 2 Greater Manchester Centre for Voluntary Organisation (GMCVO), , UK

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