Sabrina & The Covenant

Sabrina & The Covenant

Case Study

Sabrina & The Covenant
The Care Leaver Covenant is a government funded project that partners with private, public and voluntary organisations to support care leavers aged 16-25 in their transition from care to independence.
Organisations that sign up to the Covenant make ‘offers’ of support relating to education, employment, training, housing, security, health, financial stability and more. Over 200 organisations, from a range of sectors including hospitality, broadcasting and retail, have signed up to the Covenant and over 130 organisations have published offers on the Covenant app and website.

Although we don’t get the chance to work directly with all of the care leavers who take up Covenant offers, sometimes we have the privilege of building personal connections with individuals such as Sabrina.

Sabrina is a care leaver who lives in Birmingham and is a Social Care student at the University of Wolverhampton. She first came into contact with the Covenant in September 2019 when she participated in a targeted recruitment day for care leavers at the Dunelm store in Wolverhampton.

The store manager was impressed by Sabrina’s performance in the interview and tasks but due to uncertainty around her schedule for her upcoming year at university they weren’t able to offer her the part-time role she applied for. The Covenant stayed in touch with her, trying to help her find roles that might fit around her studies.

In November 2019 Sabrina took part in a Covenant event in Birmingham, appearing on a panel to discuss the challenges that care leavers face finding work. Sabrina made a big impact, and one of the partners present was keen to find an opportunity for her, however nothing suitable was available at that time. We stayed in touch with Sabrina after the event, trying to support her as she looked for work and also struggled with housing issues.

Bournville Village Trust (BVT)

Toward the end of 2019 a Covenant team member met the Director of Communities from the Bournville Village Trust (BVT) whilst on a training course. BVT is a charity and housing organisation working in Birmingham and Shropshire whose mission is to create and sustain communities where people can thrive. Their work includes providing accommodation specifically for young people leaving care.

Having discussed a possible partnership between Covenant and BVT at the training course a follow-up meeting was organised where Covenant team members visited the BVT offices and saw their supported housing specifically for care leavers. Whilst work started on developing a formalised partnership between BVT and the Covenant, BVT agreed to keep in contact when a property next became available for a care leaver.

 

In January 2020 such an opportunity came up and knowing that Sabrina wasn’t happy in her current accommodation we felt that this could be a brilliant opportunity to improve her standard of living and support her whilst she studied and looked for work. We mentioned the possibility of a property in Bournville to Sabrina, and she was keen to go and view the property to get a sense of the area.

In mid-January we accompanied Sabrina to attend a viewing at BVT. She was impressed with the flat and felt that she would be safe and supported whilst living with BVT. Not only was the cost of living at BVT very reasonable but there were many other benefits such as a Communities officer who checks in every 4 weeks and a dedicated welfare inclusion officer who can offer support including financial advice. BVT help their care leavers in residence find the cheapest energy tariffs, cheap contents insurance and have a discretionary fund to provide essential items.

Sabrina was offered the residence on a Monday and enthusiastically accepted. By Friday she had a set of keys! The staff at BVT were incredibly supportive and helpful throughout the entire process and the culture of continued support and care from the organisation make both the Covenant and Sabrina feel like this will be a happy home for her moving forward.

Sabrina says:

‘I first heard about the Care Leaver Covenant through the 18+ Care Leavers Service at the Birmingham Children’s Trust. They told me about the Dunelm job opportunity and that’s when I met Martha for the first time! My first impression of the Covenant was that everyone who works there is very nice and hospitable. They made me feel very relaxed and welcome.

 

The Covenant have been a really great help and I’ve loved working with them. I still can’t believe that I got the opportunity to get my new house! Care leavers definitely gain a voice from the Covenant. We gain confidence and have a sense of peace knowing that there are people who can give us great support, and that we can use our past to help others just by speaking out!’

The personal relationship that formed between Sabrina and the Covenant over a number of months meant that we could work collaboratively to improve her situation. It is these personal connections and relationships that care leavers need, whether they give access to contacts, new opportunities, or even just the confidence to go after what they want. Our relationship with Sabrina will continue as we support her to find employment that works around her studies and beyond into the next chapters of her life.

Care Leaver Covenant and Voluntary Sector Case Study

Care Leaver Covenant and Voluntary Sector Case Study

Case Study

Care Leaver Covenant and the Voluntary Sector

How we’ve come to collaborate with leading care leaver charities and other voluntary organisations across the country.

Organisations that sign up to the Covenant make ‘offers’ of support relating to education, employment, training, housing, security, health, financial stability and more. Over 200 organisations, from a range of sectors including hospitality, broadcasting and retail, have signed up to the Covenant and over 130 organisations have published offers on the Covenant app and website.

Collaboration with the voluntary sector was always going to be a crucial to the success of the Covenant due to the invaluable relationships that many charities across the country have with care leavers, local businesses and local government. These established relationships enable the Covenant to reach the young people that will benefit from the opportunities on offer and to develop new partnerships that will lead to further opportunities through the charities’ own networks. Although it is generally only the larger charities who can offer employment opportunities within their staff teams, charities of all sizes contribute to the success of the Covenant through these relationships and connections.

When an opportunity has been created the Covenant reaches out to charities as well as local authorities, colleges and Job Centres in order to identify the young people who may be interested. The frontline relationships that charities have with care leavers though hours of work from mentors, advisors and job coaches enables them to link the young people they are already supporting with the opportunities on offer. Without the crucial personal connections and supportive relationships these advisors and coaches provide, many care leavers wouldn’t have the confidence or information they need to take up Covenant opportunities.

The Covenant works closely with these organisations, such as the Drive Forward Foundation and Depaul, not only to refer care leavers to live opportunities but also to gather feedback about the types of opportunities the young people are looking for. This feedback helps to inform the Covenant’s partnership-building work, ensuring that the opportunities created cater for the diverse range of needs and aspirations that care leavers have. These relationships also enable the Covenant to create bespoke opportunities for a charity’s cohort where there is a shared interest or need within a group of care leavers.

 

Drive Forward Foundation

Drive Forward Foundation are one of the Covenant’s major referral partners in London. Nicholl Hardwick, one of the Employment Consultants from Drive Forward says:

‘The Care Leaver Covenant have supplied Drive Forward’s young people with employment opportunities and are regularly getting in touch in regards to new opportunities and more specifically ring fenced opportunities which are very hard to come by. They are a positive resource to have for care leavers and I hope they continue to grow and work closely with DFF in the future.’

Partnerships between charities and the Covenant do not only exist on the basis of the charities acting as referral partners. Some charities are able to make an offer of support that enhances a job opportunity offered by a corporate partner and others offer direct job opportunities within the charity itself. The below case studies highlight a few examples of such relationships.

Springboard

Springboard is a charity dedicated to the advancement in life and education of young people under the age of 25 by the provision of advice, training and skills courses. They signed the Covenant at a Covenant event March 2019 and have worked with us since, most significantly in a triangular partnership with the hospitality agency Compass UK & Ireland. In this arrangement Springboard enhances the work opportunities that Compass offers by attaching a 2-week pre-employment training programme prior to interviews, providing the applicants with the best possible chance of success. However Springboard also runs pre-employment programmes with other employment partners, and works with the Covenant to recruit care leavers onto these programmes.

This more supported route into the workforce is an essential opportunity for care leavers who are not ready to go straight into the job market. Such courses provide preparation for interviews, help with CVs and a greater understanding of workplace expectations which prepare participants for recruitment processes and beyond. Although Springboard were already engaging in getting under-represented groups into employment, the Covenant has brought a greater understanding of care leavers as a specific group in need of support to the organisation, enabling more care leavers to access these opportunities.

Tony Mullen, Employability Programmes Manager at Springboard says:

“At the Springboard Charity we have been working in close collaboration with Care Leaver Covenant for close to a year now and we are very much behind their cause of supporting young people from care to independence.

 

As a charity ourselves our mission is to help transform the lives of people who have barriers to work by supporting them into sustainable employment in the hospitality, leisure and tourism industry. Through our partnership with the Care Leaver Covenant we have been able to support a number of young people from care by providing them with the training, confidence and opportunity necessary to secure paid work. During this time we have found Care Leaver Covenant to be extremely professional, attentive and supportive. They are an amazing group of people with a hugely important cause and they are doing great work.

 

In an employment context more businesses are aware of the challenges young people from care face. Indeed, one global company that we work closely with has gone so far as to start a programme in partnership with us specifically to support young people from care into sustainable jobs within their business. On the back of initial success this programme, which started as a pilot in London, is being expanded into other parts of the UK. Our message from the Care Leaver Covenant is keep up the great work”

SmartWorks

As well as this kind of targeted support that links explicitly with an employment offer, the Covenant works with charities that offer wrap around support for care leavers seeking employment. The Covenant was put in touch with SmartWorks through contacts made in the creative industries who felt that care leavers may benefit from the services SmartWorks provide.

SmartWorks run a referral only service offering one-on-one interview preparation and a complete interview outfit for unemployed women who have a confirmed interview. After a visit to the SmartWorks office in North London to see the service at work the Covenant partnered with SmartWorks. This means that any female care leaver who is preparing for a job interview can contact the Covenant and be referred to access support in any of the six cities across England where SmartWorks operates.

Become

A further example of voluntary organisations offering wrap-around support to care leavers is the Covenant’s partnership with the London-based charity Become. Become are a charity for children in care and care leavers and they offer comprehensive information, guidance and mentoring support for care leavers across the city. The Covenant made the connection with Become after meeting at GLA events and saw the opportunity to link up so that Become could support more young people who are trying to access Covenant opportunities.

The Covenant is now able to link up candidates who need extra support with the mentors at Become to build their confidence and explore their options. Connections such as these give the Covenant pathways to access support for care leavers who are taking up Covenant opportunities but would benefit from further preparation or encouragement.

The Salvation Army

Although voluntary organisations primarily work with the Covenant to offer support, guidance or resources to care leavers in various way, some are able to make an offer of work experience or job opportunities within their organisations. The Salvation Army attended a Covenant event in Birmingham in March 2019 and were keen to see what they could offer to support care leavers. The Covenant had many phone calls with their Regional Volunteering Coordinators to develop their offer, discussing potential job types and the discounts and other perks available to care leavers who would take up these positions.

The Salvation Army now offers a guaranteed interview on application for any care leaver applying for a voluntary position at any of their 250 stores nationwide. This offer includes the opportunity to complete NVQs and participate in eLearning courses as well as gaining work experience in a retail environment and a reference for future work opportunities. It also represents an opportunity for care leavers to build their confidence, learn new skills and make new friends and connections in their local communities.

Travel expenses are paid and those taking up the placements also get a 25% discount in all Salvation Army stores, providing access to affordable furniture and other bits and pieces for their homes. There is also the possibility for moving on to paid employment within the Salvation Army where vacancies are available.

Crucial collaborations

The work being undertaken by charities in collaboration with the Covenant is crucial in building supported pathways for care leavers into employment. Charities are on hand to offer the one-on-one guidance and encouragement that all young people need in order to identify the opportunities they want to pursue and have the confidence and skills to achieve success.

In addition to acting as referral partners many charities are able to offer assistance and opportunities to the care leaver community as part of their commitment to the Covenant. Charities will continue being an essential ingredient for the Covenant’s growth, connecting us to the individuals, organisations and communities that make the Covenant work.

Tottenham Hotspur Foundation: Independent Living Workshops

Tottenham Hotspur Foundation: Independent Living Workshops

Case Study

Tottenham Hotspur Foundation: Independent Living Workshops

Tottenham Hotspur Foundation, in partnership with Haringey Young Adults Service, is offering a series of ‘independent living workshops’ to prepare care leavers for life as tenants.

Tottenham Hotspur Foundation

Since 2006, Tottenham Hotspur Foundation has been the charitable arm of the football Club. It seeks to create job opportunities across North London. The Foundation is housed in the superbly renovated, 18th Century Percy House on Tottenham High Road which acts as a one-stop hub for local people to access vocational training and jobs with employers connected to the Club. In addition, the Foundation delivers over 95,000 hours per annum of community development, health, enterprise, education and sports programmes to local people. The Community Development Team undertakes outreach work in the areas of local sports provision, wellbeing, mentoring and community cohesion. Its long-standing work with looked-after children and care leavers touches on all of these dimensions.

Partnership

The work with looked-after children and care leavers is a product of the strong partnership between Tottenham Hotspur Foundation (THF) and the London Borough of Haringey’s Young Adults Service (HYAS) and the Virtual school. HYAS’s team of staff includes social workers from children’s services and personal advisors. Once they reach the age of 18 care leavers become eligible for either a training flat or permanent secure accommodation owned by the Council. The personal advisers who work with care leavers have a key role in explaining the benefits of the programmes that THF offers.Tottenham Hotspur Foundation also has partnerships with other local charities and organisations who deliver aspects of their programmes including My Bank, Crutches Haringey and Homes for Haringey.

Work with care leavers

The decision to sign up to the Care Leaver Covenant is based on a solid foundation of previous work with this group of young people. Initially Haringey Council (The Virtual School) approached the Club to see if they would support an Educational Achievement Award, as the football club was such a massive presence in the local area and potentially a great motivator for young people.

To Care Is To Do
This programme has been running since 2006 with over 300 beneficiaries. It offers a range of activities to looked-after Haringey children aged 5 to 16, including: Educational Achievement Awards; homework club; summer and winter parties; cooking workshops; Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme; workshops on communication, leadership and life skills; financial capability workshops; and work experience. In 2009, THF organised a trip to South Africa to broaden their life experiences, as part of To Care Is To Do. Workshops are held at the Stadium which increases their appeal to young people.

‘To Care Is To Do built up something iconic in the Borough that helped some of the most disadvantaged young people aim higher and raise their aspirations.’
Employment and Skills Team Leader- Nikky

E18HTEEN
This programme ran from 2011 for three years offering support, sports and life-skills sessions to over 160 young care leavers aged 16 to 19 from the North London boroughs of Barnet, Enfield, Haringey and Waltham Forest. Jermaine Defoe, the former Tottenham and England striker, worked as an ambassador on the E18HTEEN programme. The Foundation also provided in-house mentors who offered one-to-one mentoring support to young people on the programme.

5IVE
This is an ongoing one-to-one mentoring scheme for young people in care which aims to reduce drop-out rates, promote autonomy and sustain entry into further education, training and work.

Foster Care Associates
THF participates in this Pan-London programme which focuses on young people in care aged 16-19.

The motivation for signing was that the idea of continuing work to a group close to the heart of the foundation and wanting to support those most in need within our community and wanting to act as support to the ‘corporate parent’ reflects the role that the Club and the Foundation have tried to play. The idea that the Government is supporting their work with care leavers has encouraged THF to want to be part of this policy initiative. It also enables Tottenham to be seen as a leading player in this field and to act as a model for other football clubs to follow.

The offer

From discussions with HYAS, it became clear that, for many young people, leaving shared accommodation, taking on responsibility for a tenancy and looking after themselves was too much. The end result was often that after between six and twelve months they were falling into rent arrears and being evicted. Clearly, more help was needed in helping them prepare for independent living which is one of the key outcomes of the Care Leaver Covenant. The THF offer to care leavers in Haringey is a place on a series of workshops which will help prepare them for independent living. The partnership with HYAS is essential as they have made attendance at these workshops ‘mandatory’ before they can access accommodation. Each year there have a maximum of 60 care leavers in Haringey, and currently the programme runs three times during the year with 10-15 participants each time. All participants are expected to complete all four workshops.

‘I am a full-time student studying fashion and I’m also working part time. I found the workshops informative and they have helped me feel more prepared for independent living. I would recommend other young people attend the workshops.’
Hannah

There are four elements to the THF Independent Living Workshop programme.

Tenancy Workshop

A two-and-a-half hour, interactive workshop in which young people learn the basics of taking on their own flat. Do they know what a ‘tenancy’ is? Do they realise that when they move in the walls and floors will be bare? They are provided with a £2,000 budget by the Council to help them set up ‘home’ and the workshop allows them to distinguish between essential and nice-to-have items. They also take part in activities such as Tenancy Bingo that tests their knowledge of relevant language. Do they know what an ‘introductory’ tenancy is? Do they know what subletting is? Workshops are delivered by Crutch Haringey.

Cooking Workshop

Four, two-and-a-half hour workshops spread over a month introduces the basics of eating healthily on a budget. Do they know that for £15 they can sustain themselves for three days rather than spending that money on one takeaway meal? Workshops are delivered by Kinder Kitchens for THF and they allow young people opportunities to cook easy meals.

DIY Workshop

A four-hour workshop in which participants learn about the basics of decorating and maintaining their home – from changing a plug to knowing the difference between gloss and emulsion paint. Do they know how to avoid mould in the bathroom? Can they change a lightbulb? Workshops are delivered by Homes for Haringey.

Finance Workshop

A two-day workshop to help them understand the basics of money management, reading and paying bills, priority debt, banking and living on a budget. Those completing the finance workshops will achieve level 1 personal money management accreditation. Workshops are delivered by My Bank.

‘I am in full time education and I’m also working part time. The workshops have been excellent and I have taken away a few things such as what council tax pays for and how important it is to pay it. The workshop has also helped me evaluate my spending habits and realise how much I spend on things.’
Timothy

‘I am a full-time student studying sports therapy and I also work part time. I have found the workshops to be helpful. One thing I can say I’ve learnt is how to budget and manage my money coming in and out. I have also learnt to not borrow money that I can’t pay back and to make sure once I move into my flat I put the essential things first.’
Janet

The Housing Placement Officer from HYAS also attends the workshops because they are the person that deals with the young people as they start ‘bidding’ for properties.

The ‘Independent Living Workshops’ directly address three outcomes of the Care Leaver Covenant: being better prepared for independent living; being better able to achieve financial stability; and better health and wellbeing.

Project management

The Care Leaver Covenant ‘Independent Living Workshops’ form part of THF’s Community outreach work and fall within the remit of the Community Development and the Employment and Skills team. The day-to-day running of the programme is managed by the Employment & Skills Team Leader. The role involves close liaison with the HYAS and with delivery partners. Responsibility also includes: producing and distributing marketing flyers; organising workshop venues; and analysing evaluation data received from the young people attending the workshops.

Challenges

As with any programme involving hard-to-reach young people, a key issue has been how to engage with them.

The personal advisers speak regularly and directly to the young people and their commitment has been key to the success of the programme. Probably the most important decision, however, was the shift to making the ‘Independent Living Workshops’ mandatory rather than voluntary. It signals the fact that they are viewed by the Council as necessary, and essential, preparation for independent living.

A second key to successful engagement has been the building of trust. The young people know that the workshops are of good quality and are being run in their best interests.

Tips – do’s and don’ts

DO recruit from care leavers – 60% of staff at THF have been recruited over the years from ‘beneficiaries’ of its outreach programmes.
DO ‘partner up’ – close partnerships with organisations that have similar objectives is vital, especially the local Council’s Young Adults Services and Virtual School, that have statutory obligations to support looked-after children and care leavers. There is already a lot going on and you do not need to ‘reinvent the wheel’.
DON’T over-promise and under-deliver as young people will hold you to account – much better to under-promise and over-deliver.
DON’T think you have to cater for absolutely every ‘need’ that you may come across – you cannot do everything.

St Basils: Positive Accommodation and Support Pathways

St Basils: Positive Accommodation and Support Pathways

Case Study

St Basils: Positive Accommodation and Support Pathways

St Basils promotes best practice in leaving care and offers a range of services to help care leavers with accommodation, skills training, housing crisis management and personal-and-social development.

Background

St Basils is the largest agency in the West Midlands working with young people aged 16-25 who are homeless or at risk of homelessness. It is a housing association and a charity that works with local authorities and other partners in Birmingham, Coventry, Sandwell, Solihull, Walsall, Warwickshire, Worcestershire and Wyre Forest. It assists nearly 5000 young people each year. At any one time, there are over 450 young people living in its supported accommodation schemes and each year 1500 young people are housed in 33 supported accommodation schemes.

St Basils delivers a range of prevention, accommodation and support services including extensive engagement and employability programmes to help young people regain the stability they need to rebuild their lives, gain skills, training and employment, and to move on successfully. It facilitates National Youth Voice, comprising the National Youth Reference Group and National Youth Homeless Parliament, providing the opportunity for young people to influence policy, service development and delivery. St Basils has developed a suite of national Positive Accommodation and Support Pathways to prevent youth homelessness, and to promote planning and informed choices for young people, including care leavers and those in the criminal justice system.

Partnership with Barnado’s

It is well established that care leavers are over-represented in the incidences of homelessness, unemployment, the criminal justice system and a range of vulnerabilities such as substance misuse and mental ill health. In response to this, St Basils and Barnardo’s have jointly developed the Care Leavers Accommodation and Support Framework which informs and develops best practice in the planning process for young people leaving care. St Basils’ service offer to care leavers enables them to leave care successfully and fully supports the Care Leaver Covenant.

There are five stages to the framework which reflect the journey of young people as they leave care:

R
Stage 1

Preparing for the reality of housing options

Information about the housing market, and independent living and money management skills.

R
Stage 2

Planning young people’s accommodation and support options with them

Good advanced notice of the move out of care and support in choosing the best option available.

R
Stage 3

Reducing housing crisis

Short-term alternatives when a crisis happens and support in resolving the causes of the crisis.

R
Stage 4

Accessing housing and support as needed

Planning young people’s accommodation and support options with them – good advanced notice of the move out of care and support in choosing the best option available.

R
Stage 5

Accessing and successfully managing longer-term move-on and support options

Support in accessing longer-term housing and knowing where support can be found in the future.

The offer

St Basils offer under the Care Leaver Covenant reflects its wide range of work with care leavers:

Prevention and early intervention
Crisis intervention
Accommodation
Support

‘We want young people to feel cared about, to have trusted support, somewhere safe, suitable and affordable to live that enables them to secure their futures and realise their potential.’
St Basils Offer for Care Leavers

Prevention and Early Intervention

St Basils works closely with partner local authorities across the West Midlands to develop their leaving-care strategies and to support them in their legal and statutory obligation to prepare young people to leave care. This ensures there are no cliff edges where care leavers are propelled out of the care system before they are ready thereby increasing the risk of homelessness. It works collaboratively with local authorities to encourage them to identify individual young people who are due to leave care so effective multi-agency planning can be put in place. The optimum time for this is often around the young person’s 17th birthday. This is often the age when this process starts but can start earlier if necessary or appropriate.

If the social workers and the young person identify St Basils as a provider that would best meet the young person’s accommodation and support needs, then the young person is engaged with at the earliest opportunity. This way St Basils can be involved in the planning process to ensure a smooth transition. St Basils focuses on the young people’s talents and ambitions and are keen to provide a housing and support offer which underpins their engagement in education and employment.

St Basils offers skills training for young people to prepare them for the next stage of this accommodation pathway, often into its supported accommodation. The accredited Life Skills Programme can be delivered in a range of settings including group work and one-to-one delivery. This ensures that young people understand how to leave care successfully, what is involved in sustaining their accommodation, the skills they will need to develop and the support that is available. This period of familiarisation and expectation-setting increases the chances of a successful placement. It supports the Care Leaver Covenant outcome of ‘support for independent living’.

Crisis intervention

For care leavers experiencing housing crisis and often needing accommodation on the day, St Basils’ single points of access, Youth Hubs, provide an immediate supportive response including: detailed holistic assessment of risk and needs, including their care history; establishment of their status and whether any statutory duty is owed; reconnecting them with the statutory agency; and advocating on their behalf to ensure they access any entitlements. The Youth Hubs have priority access to a range of supported accommodation options including St Basils’ own, and that of other providers, to ensure the young person is prevented from rough sleeping.

Positive Accommodation

Standards

As a registered provider of specialist supported accommodation for young people, St Basils is committed to ensuring the provision of high-quality housing services. Its accommodation is fit for purpose, complies with all relevant statutory requirements and standards, is in good decorative and furnished order, and is kept properly maintained, in a good state of repair, and in a clean and safe condition. St Basils’ accommodation complies with standards for safe-and-suitable accommodation for care leavers in accordance with the Children Act 1989. It prioritises the safety and security of residents ensuring essential systems are in place. Services provided include cleaning, gardening, ICT and WiFi.

Choice

St Basils’ portfolio includes a range of accommodation types to enable choice and to match needs. This includes self-contained flats and bedsits, accommodation with limited sharing, and shared housing. It provides communal spaces and training rooms so that young people have safe spaces to meet, socialise, learn and have fun. It is important for young people to play a role in the day-to-day management of the homes they are living in.

St Basils offer a sophisticated accommodation pathway which is flexible in response to the young persons’ requirements. This includes Immediate Access, Step Down and Foyers, Supported Lodgings, Live and Work services and a Cooperative. The staff presence varies within these services from 24-hour cover, day/evening cover or visiting peripatetic staff with out-of-hours on call.

Young people are matched to the accommodation that best meets their needs and can move to a different service as and when their needs change. St Basils also tries to ensure the young person is matched to the accommodation that is affordable, given their financial circumstances.

Support

The aim of St Basils’ support service is to prepare young people to move on successfully, develop their employability skills and tackle any vulnerabilities which act as a barrier to progress. This support is ‘tenure neutral’ and delivered within the supported accommodation and on a floating-support basis. St Basils’ support offer is holistic and tailored to the individual’s needs and their aspirations.

St Basils recognises that this cohort of young people often has complex needs and require intensive interventions to enable them to make progress in life. It is a Psychologically Informed Service and it uses a coaching approach to engage with young people. The young persons’ strengths, ambitions, assets and needs are jointly assessed and each young person is appointed a Progression Coach who will be their keyworker.

Each young person has an action plan and, together with the Progression Coach, they monitor progress in attaining the identified goals. St Basils works collaboratively with statutory agencies and engages them in the action plan, ensuring issues identified in the pathway plan are picked up, creating a team around the young person to enable them to sustain their progress.

Additional support needs are identified and an agreement reached about the bespoke type of support required by each young person. This support can be of a general nature or specialist depending on the requirements of the young person. The aim of the support will be: to enable the young person to take advantage of the opportunities on offer; to develop their confidence and life skills; to enter and sustain education/training and ultimately employment; and, when ready, to move on in a confident and sustainable way. The young people will have access to the full range of support services from St Basils including mental skills for life, youth voice, employability and life-skills training.

Challenges and learning points

Firstly, young people have told the St Basils’ team that they feel stigmatised if they have been in care. They feel they are often categorised and pre-judged to be ‘chaotic people who are always angry’. This can then result in them not getting the support they need to move on as service providers or potential employers and landlords do not offer them the same opportunities they would for those who had not been in care, as they perceive them to be a ‘safer’ option1. Therefore, it is important to challenge that culture and bias. We need to understand young people’s strengths and talents and ensure they have the underpinning support and resources to enable them to achieve their ambitions.

Secondly, planning for move-on for care leavers is often last minute and therefore limits the choices they have and pushes them in to the homelessness system. It is vital to work with local authorities to develop a planned pathway which optimises choice for the young person and is linked to their future ambitions. Having a housing member of staff based in Children’s Services helps that pathway planning.

Thirdly, corporate parents do not always understand the housing sector and may rely on framework agreements with spot-purchase arrangements. This is the most expensive type of approach and can prevent the development of well-planned, psychologically informed environments which are sustainable and do not perpetuate an institutional environment. Joint commissioning with housing-related support services provides better options, better quality, is more sustainable and can achieve better outcomes.

The experience of St Basils is that it is preferable to have mixed communities rather than schemes specifically for care leavers. Supported lodgings can be a great offer if properly managed, funded and supported. This uses community assets to provide a home for young people.

St Basils Do’s and Don’ts

DO consult with young people and see what they would prefer and what works best for their preferred future.

DO involve corporate parents upstream and help them develop the pathway framework and planned moves with choice.

DO ensure that your housing offer underpins and supports engagement with education, training or employment.

DO encourage corporate parents not to rely on the most expensive solitary spot purchase options just because they may cover all risks.

DO try to integrate young people into strengths-based, positive options and, if necessary, have access to intensified support to enable them to take up these opportunities.

DO recognise that care leavers are all individuals and try to avoid perpetuating negative stereotypes and institutional approaches.

DO provide life-skills programmes as part of any support package.

ENGIE: Volunteering Renovating a Garden for a Care Leaver

ENGIE: Volunteering Renovating a Garden for a Care Leaver

Case Study

ENGIE: Volunteering

Renovating a Garden for a Care Leaver Case study.

ENGIE are committed to delivering Social Value in the communities where we are contractually working.

Client: Leeds City Council / DfE

Location: Leeds City Council / DfE

Date: October 2019

As part of the ongoing works, ENGIE have been taking part in local community initiatives and providing employment and training opportunities for local people.

In light of this, Engie staff used their volunteering day to renovate a care leaders garden in Leeds.

On a wet October day, three willing volunteers visited a property in Leeds to clear an overgrown garden. First job of the day was to remove low hanging branches from the large mature trees, letting more light in and making it a more inviting space. Long grass, nettles and dense blackberry bushes were cut back to ground level, while leaving a more natural buffer strip at the rear fence to public open land in order to both soften the boundary, leaving a more natural line.

Both freshly cut and rotten branches alike were cut to length and left in small log piles to form bug hotels to enhance the bio-diversity of the garden and create natural habitats. Overgrowth of bushes to the front access steps were cut back revealing a handrail and allowing easier and safer access. Huge thanks to Ian Coleman, David Mellor and Jason Shoesmith for using their volunteering day to help Laura.

Also, thanks to Jock Coates for arranging removal of rubbish but moreover, a big shout out to Gary Hall who removed all the rubbish to the tip for us.

Key Features

  • Engie Staff Volunteering their time
  • Wellbeing
  • Assisting a care leaver
  • Promoting Social Mobility

Outcomes

The works have helped the care leaver by creating her a pleasant environment for her to enjoy within her own home. Due to its overgrown nature she never previously had use of her garden.

Care Leaver:
“Thank you to ENGIE for stepping in and working on my shared garden which had become too overgrown and unmanageable. I did not have the equipment to try and have a go myself. I am saving to buy a lawnmower and shears for next year as I now feel I can keep on top of it – thank you ENGIE.”

Contact for further information:

To find out more please contact 01709 766 000 and places.engie.co.uk.