Could you support a young person leaving care?

​Date:18/11/2015

PR ref: 5113

Pat Summerscales has helped over 40 young people to learn the vital skills they need to become independent adults - through Wakefield Council's Supported Lodgings scheme.

Young people who are under the care of the Council continue to receive support from 16 to 21-years-old, to help them move onto the next stage of their life.

The Supported Lodgings scheme enables a young person, who cannot live with their own family, to live with an approved adult who helps them to learn life skills such as how to cook, manage their money and understand how to share a living space with another person.

The mum-of-one and grandmother-of- two has been part of the scheme for the last two decades. She welcomes a young person into her home for anything from a few months to up to a year.

Pat aged, 69, from Netherton said: "It is very rewarding to help them to prepare for the next stage of their life, knowing you've helped them to learn and grow in confidence.

"It's important to remember that every young person is an individual so you need to get to know them and to understand what they need.

"I'd recommend the role to anyone who genuinely likes young people, is tolerant, and has a good sense of humour too."

Wakefield Council is seeking people from all backgrounds and cultures to join the scheme, who have a spare room and a desire to help. They can be single, couples, families, widows and widowers. They can be employed or unemployed, with or without a disability and of any sexual orientation. They will receive a financial allowance, training and support.

Cllr Olivia Rowley, Cabinet Member for Children and Young People at Wakefield Council, said: "It is very important that young people have the right support at a time in their life when they need it most. The Supported Lodgings scheme makes a real difference and prepares young people for the challenges of adult life."

A key element of the role is to help young people learn how to manage their money, so they understand how to allocate amounts for food, bills, travel and other expenses. Carers also support the young person as they move into education, work or training.

Pat, who was previously a foster carer with her late husband Mike, said: "It is a different role to fostering, as they are young adults. Part of the role is about giving guidance – but you need to know when to step in and when to step back, so they can learn from their experiences and if they make a mistake they'll know what to do the next time."

As part of the support she receives from Wakefield Council, Pat can call for advice or a listening ear. Her friends and family also provide informal support to her.

When the young person is ready, they move from Pat's home to a shared house, or into their own flat.

Pat added: "I would say if you think you'd be interested find out more, it's very satisfying knowing you've helped a young person to their next step in life."

For more information call Wakefield Leaving Care Team on 01924 304100.