Care-experienced young people from the Champions Board have helped shape the programmes
Positive progress is being made in South Ayrshire to support young people leaving care to develop the necessary life skills to live independently, hold down tenancies, avoid homelessness and reach their full potential, Councillors heard this week.
An update on work underway to improve housing outcomes for care-experienced young people was welcomed by South Ayrshire Councillors who have committed to reducing poverty and disadvantage, providing health and care systems that meet people's needs, and leading the way to support people and places across South Ayrshire.
The work underway is focused around four key areas – life skills, person-centred housing options, preventing the need to apply as homeless, and appropriate person-centred support – and ensuring these support the young people involved to achieve the best possible outcomes.
To support improved life skills, the Council is running two dedicated pilot programmes in conjunction with Ayr Housing Aid Centre, young people and carers:
- First Home focuses on money management, cooking and healthy eating, living as part of a community, looking after your home and improving and maintaining your home.
- Housing Education for Youths is aimed at young people 14-16 years thinking about taking their first steps towards independent living and covers areas such as housing options, the cost of running a household, the realities of moving out and homelessness.
To ensure that suitable and sustainable housing options are available to young people leaving care, a small group of young people are undertaking 'trial' tenancies. The trial includes scheduled reviews that help assess how well the tenancy is going, with the aim of converting it into a permanent secure tenancy.
Alongside this, a Housing First pilot is underway, providing a care-experienced young person with permanent accommodation as well as intensive wraparound support to meet their individual needs. It's hoped this approach will maximise the potential for the young person to successfully integrate into the local community and live a quality life.
To help those who may not be quite ready to live on their own, the Council is also working to expand the number of supported carers available. Supported carers provide young people with a supportive family setting while they prepare for living on their own.
Complementing all of these efforts will be a new specialised intensive support service for young people with complex and challenging behaviours, dedicated housing support for care-experienced young people, and enhanced employability and skills support.
Feedback from the young people benefiting from the Council's approach has been very positive. Arron (21) is taking part in the Housing First pilot – he said: "The programme is absolutely brilliant and has helped me so much over the past few months. If I didn't have the support from the programme, I don't know where I would be."
Councillor Douglas Campbell, Leader of South Ayrshire Council, said: "As we celebrate National Care Day, I'm very pleased with the positive progress that has been made over the last six months to support our young people leaving care, which is now bearing fruit. I want to thank everyone involved for their efforts – especially the young people themselves whose input has been invaluable.
"At the heart of what we're doing is listening and responding to what our young people are saying, which has allowed us to establish an individual and tailored approach that is designed to meet the specific needs of each person, rather than adopting a blanket approach that doesn't take account of individual circumstances which can vary significantly.
"While it's still early days, we can already see that our efforts to increase support for young people leaving care are making a difference and delivering positive outcomes, which is – as a corporate parent – exactly what we want.
"We will continue to maintain a proactive, positive and partnership approach to meeting our young people's needs and ensuring that those who have lived within the care system are not disadvantaged and have the chance to enjoy the same opportunities as their peers, reach their potential and live life to the full."
The Leadership Panel report, Update on Improving Housing Outcomes for Care Experienced Young People, is available here.