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.


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

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.

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.’

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.’

‘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.’

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.


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.

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