Your health and wellbeing as a care leaver

It's important to take care of yourself to make sure that you stay fit, healthy and happy. This includes your physical and mental health.

You will receive a health passport before you leave care, this will include useful information including how to access your health history and details of your immunisations. It's your right to have a record of what you have been treated for in the past. If you don't have your health passport, speak to your Personal Adviser (PA). Once you have it, read it and keep it safe.

If you need an interpreter/translator to attend any appointments, this support can be boked through your health provider. We would really recommend downloading the NHS app to access a range of services and information.

We have put together some information on support services for you if you are struggling with any aspect of your health and wellbeing and you may also find these services helpful if you don't feel able to talk to your personal adviser.

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Seeing a GP

If you are feeling physically unwell or struggling with your mental health, you can contact your GP for help. If you're not registered with a GP then you can find a local practice on the NHS website. You will need to complete a registration form that you can get from the GP surgery. As part of the registration process they are likely to ask you to provide proof of identity and address; however you should not be refused registration or appointments if you do not have proof of address or identity to hand. If you're struggling to register, contact your PA for support. Don't forget if you move to a new address you'll have to tell your GP and sign up with another one that is local to you.


The dentist and opticians

Going to the dentist

Don't forget to go to the dentist for a check-up. The time between check-ups can vary from 3 months to 2 years, depending on how healthy your teeth and gums are and your risk of future problems. It's important to be aware that most dentists accept both NHS and private patients, however, the number of NHS patients they accept may be limited and you may need to join a waiting list. If you are new to the area or have not registered with a dental practice, you can search for an NHS dentist near you on the NHS website.

Going to the opticians

Even if you have perfect vision you should go to the opticians to get your eyes checked at least every two years, or sooner if you think you need to. You might be entitled to a free NHS eye test and optical voucher to help towards the cost of glasses or contact lenses. For example if you are 16-18 and in full-time education. Check whether you're entitled to a free NHS sight test or an optical voucher.

Below are some high street opticians you may wish to try.


Support with your mental health

Your emotional and mental health is just as important as your physical health. If you feel you need support with your mental health, talk to someone, be it a friend, a family member, your GP or your Personal Adviser (PA). There are several support services available to you.

Talk to someone, you never know, they may be able to help.

  • Samaritans - If you are feeling low and do not have any other support networks or trusted adults to talk things through call the Samaritans on 116 123
  • YoungMinds Textline offers you free, 24/7 text messaging support wherever you are in the UK. If you need someone to talk to about how you're feeling, text YM to 85258. Texts are free from EE, O2, Vodafone, 3, Virgin Mobile, BT Mobile, GiffGaff, Tesco Mobile and Telecom Plus.
  • Mindworks Surrey is the emotional wellbeing and mental health service for children and young people in Surrey. You can contact the Care Leavers Service directly if you would like advice, information or would like to talk through a concern about mental health. Call 01372 203096.
  • Refugee Council provides specialist mental health support to help refugees and asylum seekers to rebuild their lives. They offer this through one to one counselling and psychosocial groups where refugees have opportunities to come together and share experiences.

Your sexual health

It can be awkward to talk about your sexual health but if you are sexually active it is really important to make sure you look after your sexual health, for both you and any partners you might have.

If you ever find yourself in a situation where you need emergency contraception, the morning after pill is available for free at some chemists and NHS walk in centres, for those under the age of 25.

If you are worried about sexually transmitted infections or would like to talk about contraception, head to your GP surgery or the local sexual health clinic. The NHS website provides a lot of useful information on sexual health services and support available.


Your relationships

By building positive relationships with others, we will be happier and feel more supported and connective. As a young person who has been in the care system you may have suffered some form of loss during early childhood, and possibly trauma and/or abuse, and may find it difficult to come to terms with your experiences as you get older.

In addition to this, your own experiences may well impact on your adult relationships, both personally and professionally. Each person's journey and experiences will be different. There are various people and organisations that can help you to develop strong and positive relationships.

Your Personal Adviser (PA) can support you with advice and guidance on how to maintain healthy relationships and signpost you to further help and support suitable for your needs.

Every relationship has its ups and downs but sometimes relationships in our lives can be harmful. It's therefore important to understand what healthy and unhealthy relationships may look like. There are lots of great resources and websites that can offer tips advice and support to help you manage your relationships.

Support for problems with drugs and alcohol

If you feel you are struggling with drugs or alcohol, or know someone else who is, there is support out there and services who may be able to help. Some examples are listed below. Remember you can always talk to your GP who may offer treatment or refer you to a local service.

  • Catch 22 – Surrey Young People's Substance Misuse Service - Catch 22 is a county-wide specialist treatment service for young people aged up to 25. If you wish to refer yourself for any substance concerns you can call 0800 622 6662
  • i-access Surrey Drug and Alcohol Service - i-access supports people in Surrey who want help with their problematic drug use and/or are highly dependent on alcohol and want to stop drinking.
  • Frank - A national service that provides confidential advice regarding rugs 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Visit the website or call 0800 77 66 00 or text 82111

Involvement with the Police

If you find yourself involved with the criminal Justice System (Police, Courts, Probation or Prisons) we want to be able to support you as best we can. You might want to mention that you are a care leaver. That way all professionals can work together to make sure that you get the additional support you need, including from your PA.

If you live or commit a criminal in Surrey you could be eligible for the Checkpoint Plus scheme. This is a 'Deferred Prosecution Scheme' which means that conditions are set by the Police after speaking to your Personal Adviser, allowing you to address the causes of crime and reduce your risk of reoffending in place of formal prosecution. This means you could avoid a criminal record and be able to have additional support to help you move forward. For more information, talk to your PA.