A number of children’s homes in North East Lincolnshire are taking part in a Government pilot scheme to improve the lives of looked after children.
North East Lincolnshire Council is responsible for the care of a number of vulnerable children – many of whom live in children’s homes around the area.
Now, the Council has been involved in an extended pilot scheme to improve how these young people transition into adults. The scheme, which started in 2018 was originally a 2-year pilot but was extended due to the coronavirus pandemic.
For many children in care, leaving the safety and security of their home to live independently can be a daunting task. The new pilot scheme, called ‘staying close’ is aimed at making the change easier by giving children a space of their own with support to learn to live independently before they move on.
Three so-called ‘eco-dwellings’ have been delivered to children’s homes in our area for young people aged 16+ to move in to. The new dwellings are situated in the gardens of the homes, meaning that support and advice is never far away as the young people learn to care for themselves.
The dwellings are also able to be used as training facilities to make sure that young people returning to their family home have the skills necessary to care for themselves.
Councillor Ian Lindley, portfolio holder for children, education and skills at North East Lincolnshire Council, said: “These dwellings are really incredible and they offer a unique opportunity for our young people.
“We care for nearly 600 children, taking responsibility for everything from their education, right through to preparing them adulthood. This includes things like teaching them to cook and clean and be responsible for their own spaces and their own independence.
“In the past our staff have gone over and above to support young people when they leave their home. That will likely continue but this pilot is about making that transition easier for them.
“I’m really thrilled that we are a part of this pilot scheme, and I look forward to seeing the results.”
Director of Children’s Services at North East Lincolnshire Council, Lisa Arthey, shared in the positivity: “These dwellings are really about giving each young person a space of their own to look after – they have to cook, clean and care for themselves and the dwelling. It’s a taste of adulthood.
“But crucially, they have that reassurance at the back of their mind that they aren’t far away from home.”
The eco dwellings are temporary 1-storey structures that have a lifespan of about 60 years.
Seven other local authorities and charities across the UK have been chosen to take part in the staying close pilot. Whilst each of the organisations involved has opted for their own way to address the issue of young people leaving care, Bristol City Council has also opted for the eco-dwellings.