A ground-breaking programme to provide accommodation for young care leavers in Wolverhampton has been given the official go-ahead after they gave a passionate account of the benefits it would bring.
Representatives from The National House Project, the City of Wolverhampton Council and commercial partner Reconomy attended a presentation by local care leavers at which they highlighted the way it would help young people preparing to leave care successfully make the transition from childhood to adulthood.
They presented a video “pitch” to the Wolverhampton House Project Steering Group about how the scheme would help young care leavers around the themes of PRIDE – Problem solving, Responsibility, Independence, Decision making skills and Empowerment. They explained that the project would also instil in care leavers a sense of community and teach them new skills which they could take into adult life.
Following the presentation, the Wolverhampton House Project was formally given the green light by the council.
Ricky Lowther, 21, a care leaver who has been appointed to the Wolverhampton House Project Steering Group as an adviser, said: "We were delighted to make our pitch to the group and explain to them how the House Project would help young care leavers; we are really grateful that it will be coming to Wolverhampton.”
Casey Gavin, Chair of the Care Leavers Forum, added: “The House Project coming to Wolverhampton opens up so many doors and opportunities for some of the city's most vulnerable young people, providing an ever-strengthening network of support, important life skills and knowledge could not be a better gift to the future of Wolverhampton.
"I am immensely proud of our achievement in receiving the go ahead and cannot wait to see it blossom the Wolverhampton way."
The scheme is designed to help care leavers through one of the most difficult periods in their young lives. It will see 10 young people aged 16 and over given an empty Wolverhampton Homes property which they can refurbish and then move into. They will be able to continue living in it for as long as they choose – forever if that’s what they want to do.
Links will also be made with local building companies and training providers to give them the skills they need to make any improvements required to what will become their home.
Councillor John Reynolds, the City of Wolverhampton Council's Cabinet Member for Children's Services, said: "Living alone for the first time is daunting for any of us, but particularly so for a care leaver who will do this at a much earlier age than most young people and who would not have the support of family members, either. As a result, some young people stay in care for longer than they either need or want to.
"The House Project will enable young people to move into their own home while getting support to develop the practical and emotional skills that they need to live independently and to make their house a home."
Reconomy Chief Executive Paul Cox said: “As someone that was born and raised in Wolverhampton I care passionately about this project and its fantastic to see it come to fruition.
"The formal announcement of the Wolverhampton House Project is a massive step forward and has the potential to be transformational for Wolverhampton’s young people in care. Reconomy is proud to be the commercial partner of this project and we look forward to getting started.”
The Wolverhampton House Project, one of six such schemes around the country, will complement and enhance the already successful supported housing accommodation currently available to care leavers in Wolverhampton. For more information about The House Project, please visit www.thehouseproject.org.