A city council and its partners are using National Care Leavers’ Week to highlight the work of a pilot renovations project that is helping young people take their first steps towards independence.
DIY SOS, as the scheme is known, is delivered by energy and regeneration business, ENGIE – an ambassador for Child Friend Leeds – and Leeds City Council.
Through the scheme, ENGIE carries out bespoke renovations, including plumbing, joinery, electrical work, plastering, and redecoration to the future properties of individuals moving into independent living.
The aim of the scheme is to provide practical support to individuals taking their first steps out of foster care, while still being supported by the city council’s corporate parenting team.
The first project was completed in March 2019 for 18-year-old care leaver ‘Katie’, who was matched with a one-bedroom flat in north Leeds. Through the scheme the property was totally redecorated by a professional painter, who modernised each room ready for new carpets to be fitted throughout. A further seven properties have since been completed with another five to follow in the coming months.
In October 2018, ENGIE signed up as a Signatory Partner to the Care Leavers Covenant, which was commissioned by the Department for Education and forms part of the Government’s ‘keep on caring’ strategy, which supports people leaving care to live independently.
“Giving back to the communities in which we work is at the heart of everything we do at ENGIE, and the DIY SOS project and our commitment to the Care Leavers Covenant are great examples of that,” said Claire Preston, ENGIE’s social value manager.
“The regeneration work we do with our partners is not just about the bricks and mortar, it’s about helping to transform the lives of local people. The transition into living independently can be a daunting time for care leavers like Katie, so we’re delighted to be able to provide a helping hand by ensuring their new property is a welcoming home.”
Councillor Fiona Venner, Leeds City Council’s executive member for children and families, said: “In Leeds, we truly value partnership working and ENGIE’s work supporting care leavers is a fantastic example of how, together, we can make a positive difference to the lives of some of our city’s most vulnerable young people.
“We have a bold ambition to make Leeds the best city for children and young people to grow up in and through working with our amazing network of dedicated Child Friendly Leeds Ambassadors we are really driving this forward. I’m delighted that we will be continuing to work with ENGIE to help support our care leavers as they transition to independent living.”
National Care Leavers’ Week was established in 2002 by charity The Care Leavers Foundation to highlight the needs of care leavers. This year is runs from 28 October to 3 November 2019.