Care leavers have 50/50 chance of homelessness

Artists impression gap homes

Barnardo's Scotland has teamed up with other organisations to provide purpose built houses for young people leaving care

23rd December 2019 by Gareth Jones 0 Comments

Statistics in Scotland reveal that the likelihood of a young person, who has been in care, becoming homeless is 50/50.

Leaving care is a huge milestone in a young person’s life, with the average age being between 16-18-years-old. Without suitable accommodation; a support network or life skills, moving into independent living can be extremely challenging for care experienced young people.  Having to manage this as well as finding employment or training can leave them unsettled and struggling to cope.

That’s why children’s charity Barnardo’s Scotland is building Gap Homes - purpose built houses for young people leaving care - linked to local, dependable wraparound support from nearby Barnardo’s Scotland services.

Gap Homes, a collaboration with Renfrewshire Council and Saint-Gobain, launched in Scotland this summer with the first two homes being built in Renfrewshire.

Martin Crewe, director of Barnardo’s Scotland, said: “Gap Homes is an exciting and innovative response to the lack of suitable accommodation for care experienced young people.  This new initiative will support vulnerable young people to develop the skills to succeed in reaching independence as adults and help progress some of the key challenges coming out of the Care Review.”

The charity hopes Gap Homes could mark a milestone in housing provision for care experienced young people across Scotland. 

Elizabeth McShane, assistant director of business development for Barnardo’s Scotland, who has been the driving force behind Gap Homes, said: “It can be very difficult for young people leaving care to live alone for the first time, especially when it comes to running a home on a limited budget. By offering purpose built accommodation, we aim to provide practical and emotional support, for up to two years, for those who need it the most. We believe Gap Homes has the potential to transform outcomes for care leavers across Scotland and the UK.”

The initiative will see Gap Homes being built on gap sites in cities, whilst the wraparound support will fill the gap between young people moving on from the care system.  The gap site in Renfrewshire, has been vacant and overgrown for eight years, but now has a new lease of life.

Partnership working is key to making this initiative work.  Barnardo’s Scotland has been working in collaboration with Renfrewshire Council to identify young care leavers who will be offered the first tenancy in the new homes. 

Education and Children’s Services’ Convener, Councillor Jim Paterson, said: “In Renfrewshire, we are working hard to ensure all children have the best start in life. We know vulnerable children and young people can experience significant barriers to reaching their full potential and this initiative is a fantastic opportunity to introduce a model with increased support for both the child and parent.”

Renfrewshire Council’s chief social work officer, John Trainer, added: “Introducing the first Gap home into Renfrewshire means we can offer a unique opportunity for care experienced young people to be supported to move into their first home after leaving care. It is a significant piece of work that supports what we are doing to develop progressive and pioneering care and support for our most vulnerable children and young people.”

 

This initiative also marks true commitment from the charity’s partner Saint-Gobain UK and Ireland, with a number of projects planned over the next two years to help vulnerable young people develop their skills and find their way back into employment.

The construction company has provided design assistance, technical and training support on Saint-Gobain materials to ensure that the comfort, health and wellbeing of the young adults is a priority.

Mike Chaldecott, chief executive of Saint-Gobain UK and Ireland, said: “We are proud to be supporting this Barnardo’s initiative, which aims to help vulnerable young people by providing homes in which they can develop important life skills and learn to be truly independent.

“The new homes will be built to extremely high standards using Saint-Gobain materials, and a holistic approach to design will be taken to ensure that the homes are energy efficient, comfortable, and take into consideration the health and wellbeing of the young people.

“We will also use this project to provide training opportunities to young people, getting them involved in the build process, as well as helping them to learn new skills that they can take forward to secure employment within the construction and other sectors.”

The charity’s national charity partner, IKEA UK, have been using their home-furnishing expertise and knowledge in small space living to support the project, working closely with the young people to furnish their new homes in a way that maximises space and brings their personal style to life.

Rob Cooper, store manager at IKEA Glasgow, said: “Gap Homes is an amazing project to be a part of. The whole store is excited about it and we feel lucky to be able to support these young people at such a crucial stage in their lives. Our vision is to create a better everyday life for the many people, with families and young people a top priority for us. So when our national charity partner Barnardo’s presented us with the opportunity to work on the Gap Homes project, we jumped at the chance!”

Gap Homes, will deliver two new homes in Renfrewshire, with planning already underway with other local authorities in Scotland and England.