A local charity is urging Islanders to open their hearts and homes to young adults leaving care as part of a paid scheme to give them a "stable" place to live, and the opportunity to learn vital life skills.
Banardo’s Jersey is looking for families willing to offer their home as a ‘supported lodging’ for a vulnerable young person seeking practical and emotional support after leaving care, or facing other difficulties in their life.
The new project is being piloted in the island after similar, successful schemes in the UK which boosted care leavers’ engagement with education, employment or training opportunities as well as improving their ability to maintain their own tenancies later on.
Video: The Jersey pilot scheme has launched after successful projects in the UK. (Youtube/Barnardo's)
In exchange for supporting the young person, host families would receive weekly payments as well as ongoing support, supervision and training throughout the lodging period.
Commenting on the scheme, Barnardo’s team manager, Sammy Price, said: “Care leavers are one of the most vulnerable groups in society and often begin adult life at a huge disadvantage compared to most of their peers. Their own parents may have been unable to support them and they can be in desperate need of an emotional connection to others.
“It can be a very isolating and lonely experience, and inappropriate placements increase the risks of homelessness and other problems such as substance misuse and criminal behaviour. So an additional option is needed if they’re not quite ready for independent living and having their own tenancy.”
She continued: “We believe supported lodgings could be part of the solution – offering the benefits of a family environment to develop their confidence and capability at a gradual and manageable pace.”
Pictured: Host families will help teach the young people life skills like cooking and budgeting.
All hopeful host families will be subject to a criminal records check, interview and assessment. Single people, couples and families can all be considered and the charity invites everyone interested to apply regardless of whether they’re employed full-time, part-time or are unemployed.
The charity advises that the young people may need help with life skills, such as cooking, shopping, budgeting, laundry and housework as well as support with finding education or training, finding a job, attending appointments or finding longer-term accommodation.
Alongside the host family, Barnardo’s staff would be available to offer assistance and each young person would be partnered with a volunteer mentor to provide additional support and guidance. The charity also offers life-skills training sessions through its Plan B service.
Sammy emphasised that although “supported lodgings providers don’t have the same responsibilities as parents or foster carers”, they can “make a dramatic difference to a young person’s future prospects".
If you can love tenaciously, hope relentlessly and nurture someone into all they can be - please apply.— Carly Glover (@Carly_Glover_) December 4, 2019
Some of Jersey's most incredible young people, in need of some stages of love and nurture they haven't had, need people like you. https://t.co/qCCmpCsKqL
She added: “Even the simplest things – such as returning home and being asked if you’ve had a good day – can mean so much to a young person who is alone and unsure of their place in the world. They just need to know they have someone to turn to, someone who will look out for them.
“The right support at the right time, as they transition into adulthood and independence, can provide them with everything they need to become successful young adults.”
The project has been made possible in the island after a £96,000 donation from the Philip Gower Charitable Foundation - a local organisation dedicated to supporting disadvantaged children - made last year.
According to the charitable foundation's website, the funding covers three years, "after which time, if Barnado’s can prove it has been a success, the States will take it over."
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