Every year, around 10,000 young people in England, aged 16-18, leave local authority care. Each of these young people face huge challenges and considerable vulnerabilities as they move into independence without the support of close family.
The challenges facing care leavers
Young people in care have often had difficult lives and have to start living independently much earlier than their peers. Two thirds of all children in care are there because of abuse and neglect. This can have a significant and lasting impact on their mental health and emotional well-being. In 2013 in the UK, 50% of all young people were still living with their parents at the age of 22; however, young people have to leave care by their 18th birthday and some move straight into independent living. Many care leavers feel they leave care too early.
How care leavers feel
Moving from care to live alone is a huge step. Young people told us that in the run up to their 18th birthday they felt anxious and unprepared. They felt that they had little or no choice in where they lived and had not had any involvement in planning their move. After moving, young people said that they had felt lonely, alone, isolated and scared. Their workers often did not know them well enough to support them properly and they did not have the time to get to know their workers or have a relationship with them. Young people told us clearly how they thought it should be and from this feedback, the first House Project was developed.
Our young people wanted to have choice, take back control and not be alone.
Our approach was driven by the views of young people at every stage of the process. We needed to ‘do’ leaving care better and differently. We recognised that we could only make it better by using the expertise of young people with current lived experience and hence, 'working with' and 'nothing without them' have been central to our approach.
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