They approached their 18th birthday with a sense of anxiety and foreboding rather than excitement and plans to change the world. They had little or no choice in where they lived and had not had any meaningful part in planning their move. They felt lonely, alone, isolated and scared. Their workers often did not know them well enough to support them effectively and they did not have the time needed to forge meaningful relationships. We asked how it could be different. They told us loudly and clearly and in no uncertain terms. And we listened. And then together we did it differently.
Young people’s views
We knew that moving from care to independence
was not a positive experience for most young people.
Young People’s feedback
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. Young people described being placed in flats with no choice about where they lived or how the ‘moving in’ budget was spent. For anyone who has experienced abuse, not having a space in which they feel safe can be overwhelming.
‘When you first get told that you are moving to live independently, it is really scary; it is the scariest thought in the world’.
‘You’re moving out; you’re straight out there; you’re on your own’
‘You’ve just got to face it and do it by yourself, with no one to comfort you’
But it was not enough simply to provide a nice flat in a nice area, because this did not get to the heart of the issues. Our young people did not want to be ‘done to’ or ‘done for’, they wanted to be able to take back control and not be alone – particularly powerful from people who have experienced neglect and abuse. Young people told us that:
‘We need pride. Coming from the care system it’s difficult to find something to be proud of’
‘I want to be standing up and people feeling proud of me’
What young people said about the project
‘I’d compare the House Project to a tree; we’ve planted it and we’re growing up. We’re all together and we’re all going up.’
‘I’m more aware as a person, life beyond being in care has some focus now.’
‘I think it’s just that I know I’ve got the support around me, if I ever do fall that I’ve got someone to pick me up and get me back on the right track.’
‘You’re with other people so you don’t feel alone’