This Care Experienced Week read how new accommodation aims to help care leavers take on their first tenancy.
This week the first tenants moved into supported accommodation created by Falkirk Council to help young people successfully make the transition from care to independent living.
Although young people are legally entitled to stay in care until they are 21 the vast majority choose to leave aged just 17 - nine years earlier than the average young person leaves home in Scotland.
The reasons are varied but Jenny Kane, Team Manager, Leaving Care Service, believes it’s often because they feel they have to leave and once they do they can’t go back.
She said: “Often young people leave care and live in poverty. They tend to be socially isolated and very lonely. They are vulnerable and desperate for company which can lead to bad relationship choices. If they are able to secure a tenancy most lose it because they don’t have access to the financial, emotional and practical support most young people do as they don’t have family to turn to. That’s why it’s important that young people leaving care have trusted adults they can call on night and day to help them cope.”
And that’s way establishing the supported accommodation for care leavers was a priority of the Council of the Future’s Closer to Home strategy, which aims to create better outcomes for young people through refreshed work practices and a series of inter-connected projects.
Over the past 17 months the team behind the supported accommodation has worked to turn a disused block of Council flats into accommodation that will provide care leavers with their own tenancy and, crucially, on-site support 24/7 from LinkLiving.
“The eight self-contained flats have their own front door but staff are on hand to help young people settle in and become good neighbours. They’ll also help them with the practicalities of running their own home - from housekeeping skills, budgeting and paying bills to finding and keeping employment, training and education right through to helping them plan for their future. Staff will also be aware of the trauma the young people have experienced as a result of earlier life experiences and will be there to provide a listening ear.”
Creating the modern, bright and welcoming one-bedroom flats came about after Children’s, Housing, and Development Services worked together to turn the idea into a reality bringing to life our Council values of being responsive, innovative, trusted and ambitious (RITA).
An office, staff accommodation, emergency accommodation, communal areas for socialising and a landscaped garden have also been created, and young people moving into the property can stay for up to two years. During that time they will learn to become more independent and successfully manage their own tenancy.
“They will become more confident about achieving a positive transition to the wider community through succeeding - and occasionally failing - in a safe and nurturing environment. They will have the support of other young people who understand some of their struggles and the support of team of staff who are committed to helping them to succeed.”
Pictured: (above) one of the communal areas; (below) inside one of the eight flats.