The House Project – Care Leavers Owning Their Futures

The House Project takes a ground-breaking approach to enabling young
people leaving care to achieve successful independence. We want them to
own their own futures.

Each House Project is a small, local business, co-constructed with
young people themselves to maximise their ownership. The young people,
with adult support, learn to project manage the refurbishment of void
properties which become their homes.

Following a successful
pilot in Stoke-on-Trent, the project has gained funding to set up a
National House Project Hub to franchise the model and five new local
House Projects.

A third of care leavers
experience homelessness between 6-24 months after leaving care. By doing
it differently, the pilot had a 90% success rate for tenancy stability
and a transformative effect on young people’s life chances.

Jason’s
film shows how a young man, who had lived in residential care and
become homeless, was able to find a new home and new hope through the
project.

We need to change the experience of leaving care. 

Luke,
who lived independently from 18, tells us: ‘When you first get told that
you are moving to live independently, it is really scary; it is the
scariest thought in the world’.

As Marc, who also lived independently from 18, puts it: ‘You’re moving out; you’re straight out there; you’re on your own.’

‘We need pride. Coming from the care system it’s difficult to find something to be proud of.’

These
challenges were recognised by the project at its inception. In the
drive to change outcomes, we made a commitment to young people’s
ownership. We needed to ‘do’ leaving care better and differently. It was
not enough to provide a nice flat in a nice area. This did not get to
the heart of the issues. Our young people did not want to be ‘done to’
or ‘done for’, they wanted to be able to take back control and not be
alone.

James, another care leaver, points out: ‘You’re with other people so you don’t feel alone.’

The
results of its pilot phase are powerful. Nothing exemplified this power
more than the visit of Edward Timpson, former Minister of State for
Vulnerable Children and Families to the project in Stoke.

As
Jade says during the visit,: ‘I’d compare the House Project to a tree;
we’ve planted it and we’re growing up. We’re all together and we’re all
going up.’

The first phase has been exciting. The next, in which
the project goes national, starting with five new Local Authorities, has
the potential to transform the lives of many, many more care leavers,
giving them ownership and pride in doing things for themselves, a safe
place to live and a community of support.

‘I feel like I am not going out there alone now,’ says Mia. ‘That is different to how I felt before the House Project started.’

Published by Residential Forum

The Residential Forum is to promote the achievement of high standards of care and support for children and adults living in residential care and nursing homes, supported housing, residential schools and colleges, hospices and hostels. It contributes to improving the quality of service to the public. Members of the Forum are people of standing and experience drawn from the public, private and voluntary sectors, as well as some who can speak for service users and carers.

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