Today we talk to Ben Whitehead, a manager within Leeds City Council’s fostering team, about Leeds City Council’s supported lodgings initiative. The initiative provides lodgings for young people aged 16-21, and we wanted to know how this new initiative works and who can get involved and become a supported lodgings provider…
Supported lodgings are a new initiative from Leeds City Council, what prompted the initiative starting up?
Leeds has a lack of appropriate semi-independent living for young people aged 16 plus, and as a result these young people often find themselves in a range of temporary accommodation, or being provided with their own accommodation when they aren’t emotionally and practically ready for full independence.
Supported lodgings are about offering young people a half-way house, an environment where they’re given a high degree of independence, but that they will have support from their lodgings provider to talk to and help them out.
The aim is to equip young people with the necessary skills to move on to independence in a safe and managed way.
Who might supported lodgers be?
Supported lodgings providers will mainly provide accommodation to: care leavers; young people aged 16 plus from residential homes needing to experience ‘family life’ before full independence; and homeless people aged 16 to 21 years old.
It sounds like it could be quite challenging for lodgings providers, what would make the challenge worthwhile?
Supported lodgings providers are in the perfect position to shape and develop young people, assisting them to learn how to stand on their own two feet and developing independence, encouraging them to spread their wings and experience different things.
Providers also receive an allowance of £184.73 p/w per young person and Bodyline gym membership. And there is assistance in place if they’re struggling, working with a support worker, training and a support group and phone access to the ‘Emergency Duty Team’ who offer advice to providers on evenings and weekends.
Do you think there’s a certain type of person to become a lodgings provider- as I can imagine it can be a challenging but rewarding role- do you think the challenge is for everyone?
Supported lodgings providers don’t need to be super-human, but they do need to have some understanding of the issues teenagers and young adults face. This might come from their own personal experiences of being a teenager, or it might be from having contact with teenagers and young people, for example, through work.
Most importantly, they need to be there for them when they need someone to talk to! To have good communication skills, provide boundaries, teach independence skills, negotiate effectively when difficulties arise and have a sense of humour.
So if you think becoming supported lodgings providers might be for you, what would you say is the first step to take?
If you’re interested in becoming a supported lodgings provider or simply want more information you can visit the website: https://sway.com/CvFVViRkzSDX6oIH, or ring an advisor on: 0113 378 3538. Alternatively come along to the fostering hub, where staff are able to answer your questions. Details of information evenings can be found on our website.
Okay that’s great, have you got any final message for Leeds’s potential supported lodgings providers?
Just pick up the phone or look at our website, there are many people and families in Leeds who could be able to offer a teenager / young person a supportive environment where they can learn the skills to become a responsible and effective adult.
Thanks a lot to Ben for answering our questions, to find out more about becoming a supported lodgings provider, see: http://www.leeds.gov.uk/foster4leeds/Pages/supportedlodgings.aspx.
Would you consider becoming a supported lodgings provider? Do you think the initiative is a good idea? You can join the conversation by leaving a comment below, or ask us a question on Twitter @child_leeds…