For many young people, especially care leavers and unaccompanied asylum-seeking children, the transition to adulthood is a time of fear, insecurity, and increased vulnerability. This is magnified by a post-care accommodation environment that is stretched, with demand continuing to grow and variability in quality, with impersonal, semi-independent accommodation and insufficient professional support for young people. Too often, this accentuates rather than ameliorates risk. Shockingly, one in three care leavers becomes homeless within the first three years of leaving care and care experienced young people make up 25% of the homeless population.

Concrete Rose received a grant from the Outlook Fund to help them establish their ‘Room to spare’ supported lodgings initiative, which increases the number and quality of semi-independent accommodation placements available to young people. Concrete Rose recruits, trains and supports hosts to provide a bedroom, safe environment, tolerance, support and guidance to care leavers. Concrete Rose also provide intensive wrap-around support to both hosts and young people.

A part of a young person's room, including a small clothing rack, a computer and room decor.

This grant has enabled us to pioneer and establish a new, innovative housing provision in Cambridgeshire that can make a meaningful difference to the lives of young people in the local area. Having established the foundations this year, we are confident of being able to grow in scope and area.

Concrete Rose

Meet Laura

Laura had just turned 17 when she was referred to Concrete Rose…

She had a history of care, having suffered abuse from her step-mum, but had been sofa surfing for a few years. Due to a breakdown in relationship with a college friend, she was made homeless, so she was moved by social care to an adult homeless hostel in Wisbech. This was a traumatic experience. Laura felt frightened and alone, with risk-taking behaviour all around her. She was also isolated from, and unable to take part in, important elements in her life, including work, college and friendships. This was despite the fact that she was currently in college three days a week (studying a level 3 course in engineering) and also working part-time.

Concrete Rose moved quickly and, within a week, moved her into an available host family. This proved transformative. Laura was immediately (the next day) able to return to college. She could reconnect with friends and start work again.

Concrete Rose provided:

Laura’s hosts have supported her to:

Ever since I have moved in with Gavin and Liz [the hosts], everything began to get easier. Gavin and Liz are very nice and respectful people, and I cannot thank them enough for helping me. I am currently studying level 3 Engineering at CRC (Cambridge Regional College) and I really enjoy it. I am on my final year of college. In the future, I want to be an Aerospace Engineer. I am hoping to get an apprenticeship with aerospace Marshalls next year. I also want to thank Concrete Rose as they have helped me through my struggles and motivated me to never give up.

A care leaver supported by the scheme

Benefits for hosts

The supported lodgings experience not only been benefitting the young people, but also the hosts.

Hosts are enriched by the relationships with young people

Hosts have talked of this “keeping them youthful” and that they enjoy spending time with a teenager.

“Our experience has been easier than expected, largely due to a good match with our lodger who engages well with us and our wider family, and who appears to have settled well.”

Hosting provides a sense of purpose

Hosts have reflected on the sense of purpose that comes from supporting a young person and seeing the difference it can make.

A welcome pack on top of a table, including towels, toiletry, a mug, a card, sweets in a jar, pens and a notepad.

Hosting has developed new skills

Hosts are developing new skills not only from the training they receive in trauma-informed care, but also in the day-to-day interactions with the young people. For example, they develop skills in negotiation, teaching, coaching, goal setting and action planning.

Hosting offers new perspectives

Hosts have remarked on the insight that hosting has given them into the systemic barriers to young people from troubled homes/care and the importance of trusted adults, which are so often taken for granted. One host couple recognised the perspectives that this has opened up for their own children and the realisation that the level of privilege that they are accustomed to is not the same for every child in the area.

It is very satisfying to feel that we are making a difference in her life. It is encouraging to see how she is starting to relax and to be able to focus on things other than simply surviving.

Laura’s hosts

Would you like to support similar projects?