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Care system leavers struggling to find secure and safe housing

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Care system leavers struggling to find secure and safe housing

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Published by Max Salsbury for 24dash.com in Housing and also in Communities

Care system leavers struggling to find secure and safe housing Care system leavers struggling to find secure and safe housing

Many young people leaving the care system are struggling to find housing or are living in unsuitable, unsafe or insecure accommodation, new research has revealed.

A new report from children's charity Barnardo’s shows that vulnerable care leavers are worried about the risk of becoming homeless and are experiencing severe difficulties with finding appropriate accommodation, having a choice in their housing and managing living alone for the first time.

Conducted with care leavers and support workers across a range of Barnardo’s services throughout England, the ‘On My Own’ report found that many young people struggle with the practical problems of how to pay bills and cook for themselves, whilst others experienced a break down in their accommodation and were facing the risk of eviction, sofa-surfing or sleeping rough.

One care leaver described the anxiety at leaving care and feeling unprepared to cope alone: “But what I am scared about is that when I get to that point and I can’t do it (cope alone), I’m out there and you’re not. There’s no way of getting back into care once you leave it… As soon as you’ve left, you can’t go back.”

Barnardo’s is now calling on the government to extend the support given to care leavers, so that all of them, not just those staying in or re-entering education and training, are offered personal advisors up to the age of 25

Ahead of the upcoming Local Government Conference 2014, the charity is also recommending that children’s services and housing departments within local authorities work more effectively together to ensure the accommodation needs of care leavers in their area are met.

Barnardo’s says that this could include jointly commissioning an accommodation pathway for young people so that care leavers have a degree of choice and are able to access a range of accommodation that meets their needs at different stages of independence.

Barnardo’s chief executive, Javed Khan, said: “Young people leaving the care system are often the most vulnerable in our society, but shamefully the extra help they need is often not available for them or inconsistent across the country.

“These young adults deserve better and should be offered more suitable accommodation options if they face a housing crisis - not be placed in unsafe B&Bs or homeless hostels.

"Local authorities need to ensure they are living up to their position as corporate parent to these young people and working in tandem with children’s services and housing departments to make sure they deliver.

“Furthermore it is a paradox that only those care leavers who are in education or training get support until they are 25, whilst those who are jobless and not wanting to access formal learning have their support removed at 21. We believe all young people who have spent time in care need on-going help past 21, especially in order to stay in housing when other support falls away.”

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