“Open your hearts and homes” – Essex County Council urges people to become Supported Lodgings Carers
With February 24th marking one year since the beginning of the war in Ukraine, Essex County Council is urging more Essex residents to open their homes to vulnerable young people by becoming a Supported Lodgings Carer.
Young people who need Supported Lodgings are aged 16 - 18 and may have left foster care, experienced a family breakdown or be an unaccompanied child seeking asylum. Supported Lodgings Carers offer them a family environment along with the emotional and practical support to prepare them for living independently.
Essex County Council provides all carers with bespoke local training, 24/7 support, access to support groups and a dedicated social worker.
Cecilia, aged 65 from Basildon, has been a supported lodgings carer for 14 years. People looking to make a difference can become a Supported Lodgings Carer and continue to work full-time as long as they can meet the needs of their young person.
Cecilia said: “For 14 years I have been taking care of young people and giving them the skills to live independently, including learning how to cook, clean, budget, open bank accounts and access medical care and education. It’s very rewarding seeing these young people blossom and move on into society – I feel it’s my way of giving back to the community.
“In the case of young asylum seekers, they’ve just landed in the UK and have nothing with them whatsoever. They need toiletries, soap and pyjamas, but most of all compassion and reassurance that they are safe. It’s heart-warming to see them open up and rebuild their self-confidence.”
To accommodate surging numbers following Europe’s largest refugee crisis since World War II, Essex County Council is urging more Essex residents to sign up. During March 2022, the UK government introduced two new visa routes to allow those affected by the war in Ukraine to seek refuge in the UK. As of 30 June 2022, 33% (29,620) of the 88,950 arrivals were under the age of 18.
Cllr Beverley Egan, Cabinet Member for Children Services and Early Years at Essex County Council, said: “Our Supported Lodgings Carers provide young people who have suffered trauma with the stable, supportive home environment they need as they approach adulthood.
“Now more than ever we need people in Essex to sign up and offer their spare room. You have this fantastic opportunity to empower a young person, enabling them to build confidence and develop the skills they need to become independent.”
Cecilia added: “I feel supported all the time by both my social worker and Essex County Council, they are kind and understanding. This is a life-changing opportunity to help someone develop and learn that they are a valuable member of society.”
Find out more about supported lodgings by:
You can watch a film with Cecilia sharing her experience on our YouTube channel.