Wolverhampton website offers support for youngsters’ housing project
A ground-breaking project that enables young care leavers in Wolverhampton to refurbish properties they can then live in, has received a welcome boost during the coronavirus pandemic.
The House Project, a partnership between the council, the National House Project and commercial partner Reconomy, was officially launched in October, and gives people aged 16 and over the chance to develop the practical and emotional skills they need to live independently.
So far 10 people have been signed up to be part of the project, with the first youngsters initially intended to move into their new homes this spring.
However, the process has been delayed due to the coronavirus. But now a new website will help those involved stay in touch during the lockdown.
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The council website aims to provide a valuable link for people to find out more about the scheme and follow the progress of those involved.
Julia Tompson, supported accommodation manager for the project, said: "Unfortunately for obvious reasons we have been unable to pursue some elements of the House Project programme at present, but we are still working with our young people to support their move into independence.
"We are maintaining daily contact with all of them and using video calling to maintain the group dynamic so that we can continue as best we can in the current circumstances."
Councillor John Reynolds, the council’s cabinet member for children and young people, added: "Supporting care leavers is a key priority for the council.
"Young people in care have often had a very difficult start to their lives, so it’s important that we give them the help they need to make this transition.
"Living alone for the first time is a very daunting thing for anyone, but much more so for a care leaver who is doing this at a much earlier age than most young people would.
"We are immensely proud of the young people we are supporting through the project, and this website will enable us to share their progress and successes in the months and years ahead."
Councillor Reynolds said it was hoped that the scheme would save the council around £500,000 a year, and that links were being established with local building companies and training providers to give the youngsters the skills they need to make any improvements required to their new homes.
Once those involved have refurbished their property with the help of local building companies, they will move in on an introductory tenancy with a view to having a long-term tenancy within six to 12 months.
Having proved themselves as tenants, they will then "graduate" from the project to become ‘managing tenants’ but can continue to live in the homes for as long as they wish.
Originally pioneered in Stoke-on-Trent in 2017, The House Project focuses on maximising young people’s ownership of all aspects of the scheme, with a view to them developing a long-term support network, confidence in themselves and their futures and a sense of pride in what they have developed.
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