Every year in Greater Manchester over 1000 young people – some just 16 years old – leave care. Without access to a stable home, basic skills to manage their lives and finances, or affordable means of getting online to continue with education, apply for training and jobs or keep in touch with friends this move can be very difficult. 

That’s why 18 months ago GMHP co-developed and signed a joint Care Leavers Pledge, endorsed by the Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham, that commits our members to provide consistent and far-reaching support for young people leaving care, ensuring they are in the best position to move forward positively in their lives.

The pledges focus on three key areas: homes, employment and training, and life skills and mentoring, and GMHP members have been working to develop local offers to meet the needs of care leavers across GM. 

Homes

We want young people to have homes they can live in for as long as they want. We know that a safe home is the foundation for being able to continue studying, get a job, feel settled and connecting with their friends, family and community.

Below are some examples of how GMHP members have been developing their offer to care leavers: 

Mosscare St Vincent’s have increased the supply of accommodation during 2020. They have introduced long term tenancies in partnership with the National House Project model and delivered 12 units for care leavers in Manchester at their redeveloped former office in Moss Side.  They have also delivered two additional transitional care leavers accommodation projects in Tameside. They also have 22 units that have been completed this year. In addition, they have also increased their specialist care leavers accommodation in Trafford.

Bolton at Home have developed a pilot of six properties for care leavers with additional support. These homes are being decorated and furnished to the young person’s taste before they move in. Bolton at Home are also working with young people to give them the skills they need to look after their homes, cook, budget and connect with the community. Using an accredited course, they will have the knowledge they need to live independently, with support on hand from a specialist member of staff if needed.

Jigsaw Homes have 12 dedicated flats for care leavers as well as shared house. They are also reviewing their furniture and decorating offer to make young people feel more at home in their properties.

ForHousing have 13 young people in accommodation. Through their Make a House a Home initiative residents have a budget for decorating and furniture to be done with the young person so they feel at home.

Irwell Valley have eight self-contained supported accommodation properties as well as emergency beds and 19 supported bedsits primarily for care leavers. They also run a successful outreach service to support young care leavers

The pledge commits each housing provider to offer quality and stable housing homes to care leavers, alongside employment and skills opportunities and peer mentoring, and wide support in the transition from living in care to living independently. 

Support care leavers receive includes advice on money management, repairs rights advice and life skills, and we have an ambition to be able to offer care leavers a guaranteed interview for jobs they apply for with GMHP members. 

Employment and training

We understand how daunting it can be to try and get your first job or apprenticeship, and how important it is to have a stable and secure job so that you can build an independent life. This is even more challenging for care leavers. Nationally 40% of care leavers are not in work or training and the lack of family support can hold them back. GMHP members already have established employment and skills offers for our customers and members are adapting their offer to best suit the needs of care leavers. 

Jigsaw Homes and other housing providers have ring-fenced Kickstart places to care leavers and offer targeted employment support for young people working for them. Bolton at Home are adapting its employment and skills offer, as well as offering job taster sessions where young people can learn about different jobs with housing providers to see if it’s a career they want to pursue. ForHousing already have 12 young people enrolled on employment support with more to come. Mosscare St Vincent’s are also offering ring-fenced apprenticeships and are looking at the format of interviews with Manchester City Council to get the best out of young people in what can be a stressful situation.

Over the next year we want to do more for care leavers. We have plans to:

  • Have in-work buddy for care leavers who start working
  • Increase access to employment, skills and training through GMHP 
  • Develop partnerships with 3rd sector organisations to skill-up for jobs
  • Increase the number of apprenticeships reserved for care leavers
  • Increase the targeted support for care leavers to gain employment and skills
  • Develop and start mini skills courses
  • Have dedicated access to vacancies for care leavers
  • Offer guaranteed interviews for care leavers meeting the minimum criteria

Life skills and mentoring

Key to an independent and settled life is the confidence to deal with what life throws at you. Many care leavers don’t have networks of family who they can talk to about problems, or if they are having a bad day.

GMHP employs over 30,000 people, and we plan to develop volunteer mentoring and befriending schemes locally for young people, using our skilled workforce. We will develop a programme of training and support for volunteer mentors and talk to young people to ensure that services we design meet their needs.

Stockport Homes have a board level action plan for care leavers and staff dedicated to working with them, from applying for housing, to employment and support to live successfully in their homes.

Giving care leavers a voice

Too often initiatives are put in place without asking young people if the approach is right for them.  We understand that we don’t have all the answers and that care leavers deserve to be able to shape and develop the support they need to live successful lives.

To do this GMHP have partnered with Greater Manchester Youth Network (GMYN) who have been awarded three years funding to develop the voice of young people. GMYN have care leaver ambassadors who will work with us to put the voice of care leavers at the centre of everything we do. We will work with them to review the pledges over 2022 and challenge ourselves to get it right.

We have made a great start, but have shown already that we can do so much more for care leavers in Greater Manchester.

We have ambitious plans for 2022 including:

  • A network of volunteer care leaver champions across GMHP who will work together to deliver the pledges
  • We’ll work with our supply chain to increase opportunities for employment and training
  • We’ll work with young people to measure what we do and make sure it’s the right thing for them
  • We will work harder to identify care leavers applying for our homes and who already live in our housing, to offer them the support they might need
  • We’ll strengthen the links with local authority commissions and leaving care teams so young people can move in a more planned way, with the support and knowledge they need
Categories: Uncategorized

Leave a Reply

Related Posts

Uncategorized

New partnership will support better homes, better neighbourhoods and better health

Greater Manchester Housing Providers have joined other leaders across the city region to agree a unique new partnership that will help many more people to live in good health – by providing good quality homes Read more…

Uncategorized

Manchester Athena secures 250 jobs for young people through the Kickstart scheme

Manchester Athena has been successful in securing funding for Kickstart, a scheme created by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), aiming to create jobs for young people at risk of long-term unemployment. Thirteen housing Read more…

Uncategorized

GMHP IS SUPPORTING THE HOMES AT THE HEART CAMPAIGN

Greater Manchester Housing Providers is supporting Homes at the Heart, a campaign and coalition calling on the government to put social homes at the heart of its plan for social and economic recovery from the Read more…

%d bloggers like this: