Residents asked to open their homes and their hearts to Gateshead's young people
People in Gateshead are being asked to open their homes and their hearts to young people who need a supportive place to live.
The Supported Lodging scheme helps young people aged 16-21 who are due to leave the care system but are not quite ready to be fully independent.
Gateshead Council has chosen Barnardo's to run the scheme on their behalf. The charity will search for suitable homes, provide support and training to providers and match them with a young person so that their lifestyles complement each other in the amount of support the young person needs and the sort of things they both like to do.
Councillor Gary Haley, Gateshead Council's Cabinet Member for Children and Young People, said: "We're delighted to be working with Barnardo's on our Supported Lodging scheme. There are young people in Gateshead who are not quite ready to make that transition into independent living and we, as a council, want to support them more.
"The Barnardo's Supported Lodgings scheme is about ordinary people who open up their homes and their lives to provide extraordinary support and mentoring that young people not in care can take for granted.
"We hope that individuals, couples and families from all walks of life in Gateshead can open their doors and help support our young people by giving them a better start as they move into adulthood."
Carol Preston from Barnardo's, who is Senior Practitioner at the Supported Lodgings Service, said: "Our Supported Lodgings scheme is not just about finding young care leavers a roof over their head. It's about providing a home environment where they can flourish - with the guidance and supportive extra care that goes with it.
"Although the young people are approaching adulthood and don't need formal parenting, they do benefit from having a positive adult role model looking out for them."
For more information on how to get involved in providing supported lodgings please contact Carol Preston or Karen Jolley on 0191 2532127 or email firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com
Kodie and Tracey's story
Kodie, 19, has now set up home in Gateshead following 16 months living with Tracey in her Northumberland home. Originally from Essex, she was in foster care and went to supported lodgings after some upsetting experiences being fostered where she felt excluded from the family.
Kodie said: "Living with Tracey helped me a lot. I knew how to cook a little, but I learnt more life skills. But above all it was about talking things over, providing emotional support and helping me to be independent."
Tracey said: "I wasn't 100% sure what I was getting into when I first thought about being a Supported Lodgings provider. But I have a spare room and if I can give a young person somewhere to stay and some support, then I thought 'why not'? And once I met up with the Barnardo's team I thought I had to give it a go - it's a nice thing to do if you can for young people who need somewhere safe to stay.
"It was a bit bumpy at first, but I have been really lucky with the young people I have had living with me. When they come you are always a bit nervous with butterflies in your stomach and it's nerve wracking because you trust them with the key, but everyone is happy to sit and talk - I've never had someone who hasn't wanted to talk."
Tracey has supported six young people while she has been a Supported Lodgings provider, including Kodie. "I work full time - I'm out all day at work. You can do supported lodgings while working full time, unlike fostering. The young people are adults and although you are there to support them, as young adults they tend to have their own lives as I do mine that's how it is different from fostering - I find early evening is the best time that we catch up over dinner. Being a Supported Lodgings provider does not interfere with my ability to work full time."
For Tracey being a Supported Lodgings provider has been very satisfying. "It's been really nice to see how the young people flourish and I can see a little difference from when they've arrived to when they are leaving. I'm still in touch with three of the young people who have lived with me through email and social media and me and Kodie chat on the phone."