Children resident within the homes in our geographical area do not have the support of established peer networks and adult guidance to access education, training and employment in the same way as their equivalent peers outside of care. Cost of London housing prevents care leavers from remaining close to their former children’s homes, disrupting education and support networks. Care leavers become trapped in cycles of survival and uncertainty, denied the freedom to experiment with opportunities, to grow and increase their aspirations and facing outcomes borne out of a lack of suitable support for continuing needs.
Our innovation will offer two kinds of accommodation for care leavers. The first will be care leaver shared housing within walking distance of children’s homes, which will be open to accommodating young people from any of the local homes. This housing will provide medium term accommodation with security of tenure and a package of support tailored to the needs chosen by the young person focused on gaining independence. The other will be a pop home bedspace reserved for young people returning short term to their former children’s home. This is designed to support those wanting to return for short periods in times of need, crisis or celebration, such as for Christmas.
To ensure that care leavers get the right support, young people will co-lead clinical practice supervision with MAC UK to enable workers to evolve support towards a mentoring tone, conscious of changing roles of authority and responsibility, as children mature to independence. A mainstay of this work will be enabling staff and young people to redefine relationships to something that is not based on the hierarchy of adult and child but on a more equal peer advisory basis ensuring that the independence created is genuine and not protracted dependence.
Our innovation will create opportunities for ownership and advocacy by inviting young people to author their own leaving care plans. Our aim is to devise a young person endorsed, evaluated model of best practice for continuation of care post 18.
Staying Close Project Coordinator
Manchester Metropolitan University
London Borough of Ealing, London Borough of Hounslow, West London Alliance, MAC, UK, Garrick Road