For many young people (especially care leavers, unaccompanied asylum-seeking children (UASC), young offenders leaving custody and those without family support networks) the transition to adulthood is a time of fear, insecurity, and increased vulnerability. This is magnified by a semi-independent accommodation (SIA) environment that is stretched (with demand continuing to grow) and variable in quality. Too often impersonal SIA, - with insufficient professional support for young people - accentuates rather than ameliorates risk and, as a result, the outcomes for vulnerable young people remain shockingly poor:
- Care leavers are 3 times more likely to be out of work, 5 times more likely to suffer a mental health crisis and are over-represented in the sex industry and prison population. (40% of the UK’s prison population are care leavers and 56% of children in custody and receiving criminal sentences have a history of being in care – despite looked-after children making up only 1% of the total population.)
- Young offenders are twice as likely to have slept rough as those without experience of the prison system and over two thirds of young offenders reoffend within 12 months of release from secure institutions.
- UASC are more likely to be placed by local authorities in unregulated accommodation settings with many placements deemed substandard.
- Overall, 121,000 young people (16-25) in the UK are homeless or at risk of homelessness, 52% due to family breakdown.
Our response – ‘Room to spare’
Safe and suitable accommodation has long been recognised as the starting point for providing young people with a good transition into adulthood, including good health (including mental health), gaining qualifications, moving into employment and reducing recidivism. Our ‘Room to spare’ (supported lodgings) initiative will recruit, train and support hosts to provide a bedroom, safe environment, love, tolerance, support and guidance to young people. In addition, Concrete Rose will provide intensive wrap-around support to both the host (24/7, on-call support, supervision and access to local host networks) and the young person (weekly, one-to-one, professional youth work support). We intend to deliver 10 supported accommodation placements across Cambridgeshire in year 1 (beginning September 2021), 20-25 placements in year 2 and 25-35 placements in year 3.
We are seeking donations to help us establish this supported lodgings scheme in the local area and particularly to cover costs associated with host training and the wrap-around youth work support for young people. Any additional revenue raised will be used to invest in property that will be exclusively used for semi-independent accommodation for young people or to provide suitable homes for prospective foster carers of teenagers and BAME young people.