Social landlord ForHousing has pledged to offer family-level support to young people who leave care to help them secure housing and jobs that will set them up for life.
In many areas in the UK, young people who leave local authority care no longer receive the same support they did when they turn 18.
That leaves people at risk of homelessness, poverty, and poor health, and makes it harder for them to thrive in education and employment.
ForHousing spoke to care leavers who described feelings of loneliness and fear and that they had been ‘dropped off a cliff’ once their care has ended.
The landlord has pledged a package of measures to improve life chances and create new possibilities for young people leaving care.
The measures include providing homes in an area of their choice, as well as access to skills and training, and helping people secure affordable internet rates and furniture.
The package will also offer life skills such as decorating a room and fitting curtains.
The pledge was made as part of a commitment with other members of the Greater Manchester Housing Providers group as part of an event with the Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham.
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.
Care leavers in Salford
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.
A partnership between ForHousing and Salford City Council has already proved successful in enabling possibilities for care leavers.
In Salford, 60 young people leave care each year, 44% of which were living in ForHousing properties at the end of June 2020.
Statistics from Salford City Council show that 30% of care leavers state that they feel socially isolated and 24.4% are not in education, employment or training (NEET).
For the past two years, ForHousing has been working in partnership with Salford City Council’s Leaving Care service, which works with care leavers until they reach 25 years old.
The partnership has included providing care leavers in Salford with an offer of a home in an area of their choice before their placement terminates at the age of 18, and equipping them with the skills and confidence that they would need to manage and run a home.
To date, 30 care leavers have completed the support programme offered by ForHousing and the Leaving Care service and have become ForHousing tenants, with a further five currently progressing through the programme.
ForHousing says it is continuing to work with other partners and commercial organisations to support care leavers, through securing employment and training opportunities as well as household items.
Martyn Hague, director of Neighbourhoods at ForHousing, said: “We know life as a care leaver can be hard, and that care leavers often face extra barriers.
“Without the safety nets so many of us take for granted, such as family support, every day can be a struggle.
“Young people who have been in care are particularly vulnerable to homelessness and poor outcomes in relation to health, education, and employment.
“With the added issues brought about by the pandemic, there is potential for these issues to become even more prevalent.”
Hague added: “A safe and secure home is the foundation on which care leavers can build their lives after care.
“Having this base along with additional support and assistance means that they can fulfil ambitions, gain qualifications or enter work, establish themselves within a community, and put the difficulties of their childhoods behind them.”
ForHousing owns and manages more than 24,000 homes and delivers housing management services for other landlords.
Main image: Aris Suwanmalee/Shutterstock
Are you a social housing professional? Sign up for a FREE MEMBERSHIP to upload news stories, post job vacancies, and connect with colleagues on our secure social feed.