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25 January 2021

Could you help a young person take their first steps to living independently?

Could you help a young person people take their first steps to independent living in a safe, caring environment as a Homestays provider?

Cumbria County Council is looking for people who can offer short-term placements to young people, aged 16-21, who are leaving foster care and looking to live more independently.

By welcoming a young person into your home, you can provide emotional support and help them learn the everyday, practical skills they will need for adult life. All you need is a spare room and a safe, supportive environment, along with the time to teach them simple life skills such as budgeting, learning to cook and do housework, attending appointments and building confidence.

Retired teacher Judith Gray, from Appleby, became a Homestays provider during lockdown last year.

Judith said: “I got in touch in April and I was surprised to discover that the national lockdown would not prevent my application being processed with everything still being done online. I went to panel to be approved in August and the very next day a young lady moved in and it all went really smoothly.

“Homestays have been a really positive experience for me and I have re-engaged with what teenagers today are coping with and I hope by doing this I can help a young person find the right path in life.

“Recently the young lady who lives with me said that she feels she has ‘come a long way’ since moving in and I have definitely seen a change in her - she is more confident and organised. She turns 18 in the spring and hopes to move into independent lodgings of her own and I am going to be very sorry to see her go.

“I would encourage anyone with the space in their home to think about Homestays and how it might work for them; it can be a brilliant way to help and support young people.”

With a time commitment of seven to 10 hours each week, many people find this a more flexible alternative to fostering, as they can continue to work full time, while still having the satisfaction of knowing they are helping a young person take their first steps to independent living in a safe, caring environment.

The council is also looking for people who can offer outreach support to a young person who is already living independently in their own accommodation.

Carlisle’s Andrea Sanders-Fox has been a Homestays provider for nearly two years and currently does outreach work with two young people. 

Andrea said: “I don’t have a spare room and I work full-time as a residential support worker so outreach work, where I support a young person from a distance rather than in my own home, works well for me and fits in with my timetable. 

“Outreach is about spending quality time with the young people and it is very informal. I find it really hands-on and rewarding and the focus is very much on the young person and doing things that really make a difference for them. 

“I would encourage anyone to think about Homestays outreach work - you can make such a difference in someone’s life and there is nothing more rewarding. You feel like you can have a real impact on a young person’s future and catch them at a time when there are a few paths they could follow and help them choose the right path.”

As one of the council's Homestays providers you will be receive support from a Homestays adviser, weekly payments of £165 (or £80 for outreach) to cover the costs of hosting a young person and ongoing training and support for the duration of the placement.

Cllr Anne Burns, Cabinet Member for Children’s Services, Anne Burns said: “We are committed to providing high quality care to our looked after young people as they reach adulthood. Our Homestays providers offer a vital stepping-stone for young people to transition from the care system to independent living. We are keen to hear from anyone who would like to be involved in this vital and rewarding work.”

To register your interest or find out more go to cumbria.gov.uk/fostering or call our team on 0303 333 1216.

Could you help a young person take their first steps to living independently?