More than 20 young people who have left care in the last 12 months have been helped to find a stable home that will set them up for life by ForHousing.
In a daunting year for us all, those leaving the care system have been at increased risk of homelessness, poverty and poor health.
ForHousing pledged a package of measures last year to improve life chances and create new possibilities for young people leaving care.
They have provided homes, training to help young people learn to sustain their tenancy, helped to source furniture, and worked with people to secure affordable internet access – vital in the current work climate.
People leaving care have been empowered to take a step towards employment through workplace buddy schemes, virtual employability sessions, mock interviews and short taster sessions.
In Salford, more than 60 young people leave care each year, with approximately a third of those who left care in the last 12 months living in ForHousing homes as of July 2021.
Statistics from Salford City Council show that 30% of care leavers state that they feel socially isolated, with 24.4% not in education, employment or training (NEET).
Andy Officer, Housing Support Officer at ForHousing, who currently supports ten young care leavers in Salford said: “What I’ve found is that a lot of care leavers have lost their trust in authority and systems. I build a relationship and trust with them, offer practical support whenever they need it and am always on the other end of the phone.
“The care leavers pledge is a good thing that puts the young person at the heart of everything, empowering them to make their own decisions with support where needed.
“When a young person picks up the phone to me and says they’ve got a job or passed a course, it’s fantastic.”
The pledge was made in 2020 as part of a commitment with other members of the Greater Manchester Housing Providers group as part of an event with Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham.
For the past three years ForHousing has been working in partnership with Salford City Council’s Leaving Care service, Next Step, which works with care leavers until they reach 25 years old, supporting 43 care leavers in that time.
ForHousing said the approach was designed to offer care leavers, many of whom have endured difficult or disrupted childhoods, the same support as young people who have close family.
Commenting on the support he has received, care leaver Daniel said: “I love the housing that ForHousing has provided, and the fact that I have access to a Neighbourhood Officer to support me when I need it is a great comfort especially given my age and lack of life and tenancy experience. I know I can pick up the phone any time.”
Chloe who recently left care and is now settled into her new home said: “The schemes are great. I look at it like a trailer for the rest of my life – I know the support is there as and when I need it.”
Martyn Hague, Director of Neighbourhoods at ForHousing said: “At ForHousing we are passionate about making more things possible for more people and believe care leavers should have the same opportunities and support as any other young person.
“We offer young people leaving care the support they need to settle into their new homes and the chance to learn the skills they need to manage their tenancy. And our employability support for care leavers is empowering them to build a brighter future by supporting them to move towards work or further education.
“It’s really great news that 43 young people who have left care are now settled into their new homes and 15 have been supported into jobs or training.”
About 10,000 young people leave local authority care in England every year, with a third experiencing homelessness between six months and two years afterwards, according to the National Audit Office.
To watch a video about the care leavers initiative, visit Our care leavers pledge – YouTube.