Care leavers can be at risk of poor outcomes as they transition to independent living without the support of close family. Many young people struggle to live on their own, facing increased isolation, higher risks of mental health problems, homelessness, and becoming NEET or being involved in the criminal justice system.
Originally run by Stoke-on-Trent Council in Round 1 of the programme, the House Project (HP) represents a new approach to supporting care leavers to take control of their transitions to independent living and to have greater involvement and choice in creating their own long-term home after care.
The HP is a housing company based on a housing co-operative model, run for and by young people aged 16-18 who are leaving care. It comprises a staff team (including project facilitators to support young people) and partner agencies (including staff from legal, architect and training companies). The project involves the transfer of 10 council properties to the HP at any one time, on a short-term lease. The properties are allocated to HP young people under HP tenancy agreements alongside a bespoke package of support. When the young person feels (and is considered) able to live independently with less support they transition out of the project and they and their home transfer to a standard council tenancy. The project involves young people working with the architect and project management team to refurbish their property, which offers new skills and helps engender a sense of ownership and a real say in creating a long-term home.
With further Innovation Programme funding and led by Warwickshire over the next three years, we aim to build on these achievements by working with care leavers to set up a business to re-furbish and manage housing that they then live in, We are also in the process of establishing five additional House Projects in Warwickshire, Solihull, Staffordshire, Islington and Cheshire East, as well as establish a National Hub to support Local Authorities to replicate the project.
Department of Social Policy and Social Work, University of York