Young people who have lived their teenage years in care face an uncertain future as they try to make the transition to independence. With services from the age of eighteen being based substantially on need, those with health, learning and other needs can access support. However, those who present as able and capable are typically left to fend for themselves. They rarely have the benefit of a supportive family network, and as they line up with peers who do have this, their apparent independence may mean their needs remain unnoticed. They can become isolated, depressed and ultimately even suicidal.
These are the young people who, if supported, can make the break with the disadvantage, chaos and trauma of their past, and succeed in their adult lives. They are both the potentially high achievers, and those who achieve at good levels, in education and the job market. The actual support that they need seems simple to those who have a family home to which they can return:
- A place to go in times of uncertainty and doubt
- People to talk to who care and can express interest and support
- Somewhere that will offer a place to eat together, or even the occasional stop-over when needed
- Go-Forward will offer a support network and home-away-from-home centre where isolated young people who have nowhere else to go can find a safe and welcoming haven
- where ambitious young people with plans for the future can, when disheartened and facing brick walls, get advice and support.
The aims of the charity are that young people leaving care at age 18 who have the potential to access higher education, the jobs market, and to develop their social network are able to do so.
Specific outcomes for these young people will be:
- accessing and sustaining further and higher education in line with interest and capability
- attaining and sustaining regular employment that is satisfying and progressive
- developing an appropriate and regular support network
- developing and sustaining one or more key relationships with older adults
- improved wellbeing, considered in terms of self-care, health, mental health and engagement with life
This plan shows how this dream can become a reality. It outlines the steps and milestones the charity has since formulating the original concept in late 2015, showing how it has moved from:
- concept development, to
- initial funding, and building the contact and supporter network, and brand, to
- developing its first successful Christmas event (in 2017), to
- expanding into a regular supporting programme of four more events, and Christmas again (in 2018)
- now to developing its regular base.
The group of young people being supported are aged 16 to 25. Referred to the charity by Social Services and other social care third sector organisations, they are a mixed group:
- They are the young people that are living alone but have no stable or consistent relationships or support from family members or friends
- They are the young people that live alone and have built a network of friends whom they can depend on but have no parental figures or family home to return to throughout the celebratory periods or in crisis
- They are the young people that have had to flee or leave their motherland, seeking safety and asylum in the UK but have no family in the UK, point of reference, friends or support to turn to throughout the year
- They are the young people leaving care with hopes for the future but are worried about living alone and achieving their goals
- They are the young people that have lived outside of borough with a foster family and are returning to their LA borough at 18, but have no support locally
- They are the young people that are carers to their parent/s and need a shoulder lean on
The final element is to secure more funding for the launch of the regular drop-in. The first round of funding was secured in 2015 via the Stephen Lloyd Awards, the premises have been sourced at no cost to the charity, donations and pro bono advice is being given but a further £12,000 is needed to launch the drop-in centre service and enable it to run for its first year.