28 Aug Essex residents urged to consider supported lodgings as a rewarding alternative to fostering.
The Coronavirus crisis may have forced families across the UK to retreat to their homes for long periods of time over the last few months. But, for thousands of young people they sadly do not have a place to call their own home.
Essex County Council are therefore stepping up their calls for more Essex residents to provide supported lodgings and help transform the lives of young people across the county.
One such person to provide supported lodgings is Lynne Thomas from Harlow.
When her two children grew up and moved out to start their own lives, she describes the house as feeling empty.
“I craved the laughter and being around young people, which in turn makes me feel young. I just love seeing young people and their friends around my house. They bring such an energy and the house is buzzing. It’s like one big extended family”.
With a demanding job as a Crisis Officer for the local council, Lynne did not feel that fostering was quite right for her.
Supported lodgings meant that she could balance her full-time job with providing supported lodgings, whilst still going out with friends or going on holiday.
“It was a good alternative to fostering but just as rewarding. It fitted in with my busy lifestyle much more, meaning I could still live my own life but have an impact on someone else’s life.
You give the young people you care for as much help as they need; it is not forced on them at all. They are generally self-sufficient, so have their own budget for food and clothes. They just need a guiding hand to help them achieve. A little love and nurture can go a long way”.
Since 2014, Lynne has provided supported lodgings for 8 teenagers and keeps in contact with them all once they leave her home. She currently has four in placement aged 16-20 yrs.
Up to 500 children in Essex are expected to come into care this year and Essex County Council are looking for more people like Lynne to provide supported lodgings for those aged 16 – 18 years old.
Applications are welcomed from people from all walks of life. They can be single, married, from a same-sex family or retired but must have a spare bedroom. They can also continue to work fulltime but must consider how they can be available to a young person through the holidays.
Cllr Louise McKinlay, Cabinet Member for Children and Families at Essex County Council, said: “For many, supported lodgings is a good alternative to full-time foster care but equally as rewarding. It is more than just providing a young person with a place to live. You’ll be giving them a safe, caring, stable home environment which will help prepare them for an independent life”.
Essex County Council offer all those who provide supported lodgings high-quality bespoke local training with an active network of support groups providing opportunities to meet and learn from others supported lodgings providers.
Seven of the eight young people placed with Lynne have been asylum seekers.
“They have seen some truly awful things and have fled a country where they feel unsafe. I feel like it is my duty to make them feel safe and understand that they can trust people in the UK.
They must miss their own family terribly, so I do everything possible to make them feel part of my own life and my family. It must be working as they often call me “mum”.
They are just so loving and grateful to be here. It’s a joy to have them in my home. It’s the most amazing thing I’ve done, and I wouldn’t do anything else”.
Find out more by visiting https://bit.ly/39x8Heu. The phone line is also still open: 0800 801 530.