A new scheme in Manchester is helping young people leaving care to prepare for independent living by giving them their own home.
The House Project gives the youngsters, aged 16 or over, an empty property, which they can refurbish and then move into, along with support to help them learn to live independently. They can continue living in the property for as long as they choose, with their rent and utility bills paid for them by Manchester City Council until they reach the age of 18.
According to the council, the scheme is designed to help care leavers through the transition from childhood to adulthood, one of the most difficult periods in the lives of young people. This is particularly so for young people leaving care who don’t have the same family support networks as other young people.
Young people on the scheme are supported by a team from The House Project to ensure they have all the practical and emotional help they may need to provide them with the skills to make the house their home and to maintain their tenancy.
“We’re determined to ensure no young person leaving care in Manchester falls between the cracks as they move into adulthood. We want to give them the best support possible to become independent and successful young adults, to be happy and to achieve their full potential in life,” said Councillor Garry Bridges, the city council’s executive member for children and schools.
“Living alone for the first time is a daunting prospect for any of us, but particularly so for a care leaver who will often do this at a much earlier age than most young people and without the support of family members that other young people usually have.
“The House Project will enable them to move into their own home whilst getting a bespoke package of support to develop the practical and emotional skills they need to live independently and to make their house a home.”
At any one time, the pilot scheme will support around 10 care leavers under the age of 18 in partnership with national charity The House Project.
The scheme, the first of its kind in Greater Manchester, is designed to help the city’s care leavers make the transition from high demand supported accommodation into suitable follow-on housing and help them sustain their own tenancy.
Housing providers in the city will partner the programme and will work with the young people to help refurbish their own properties. The scheme will also support young people to take ownership and responsibility for their futures while providing them with the tools they need to make their own way in the world.
Rent and utility bills will be paid by the council up until the age of 18 when the young person will be able to access benefits themselves if need to. The scheme is the latest of a series of initiatives in Manchester to improve the lives, experiences and outcomes of care leavers.
Nationally, a third of care leavers experience homelessness within two years of leaving care, while they are also four times more likely to have mental health issues than the general population. The House Project was developed against this backdrop and began life as a successful pilot scheme in Stoke-on-Trent in 2015.
“We’re delighted to be working with Manchester City Council who are committed to improving the lives, experiences and outcomes of young people leaving care,” said Mark Warr, the House Project’s chief executive.
“Young people benefit from their involvement in the local house project, the relationships and support of their peer group, and the practical support they also get to enter the world of work. With a house they can actually call their home young people have the opportunity to succeed and achieve in their lives.”