Stepping Stones – take your first step to help young people in care

Somerset County Council is looking to recruit more Stepping Stones carers to provide a home and support to young people to prepare them for adult life and living independently.

The Council is looking for people who can offer a young person in care aged 16-21 a safe place to stay and support to live independently – i.e. teaching them how to manage their money, cook for themselves and wash their clothes, as well as encouraging them to develop their social skills, career and education.

Somerset County Council is holding an information event about Stepping Stones on Saturday 16 August, 10am-12pm, at Wessex Hotel in Street. Drop in to find out more about becoming a Stepping Stones carer as well as fostering and adoption opportunities.

Stepping Stones carers receive at least £127 per week, as well as an allowance to cover the costs of looking after the young person. Somerset County Council provides full training, regular support, out of hours emergency support and takes care to match a young person with the carer and their family. This type of care is flexible and can easily fit into people’s lifestyles – for example people can still work full time and provide Stepping Stones care.

Cllr Frances Nicholson, Cabinet Member for Children and Families at Somerset County Council, said: “As a Stepping Stones carer your task is to help young people develop their social and independence skills, to help them move on and start their life as an adult. If you enjoy working with young people I encourage you to take the first step to becoming a Stepping Stones carer today.”

Jo from Glastonbury has been a Stepping Stones carer for three years. She said: “Originally I chose the Stepping Stones scheme because I am too busy to commit to fostering but thought I could manage young people approaching independence. My older children had grown up and left home and I was left with only one teen. Somehow the house seemed too quiet and empty! I particularly like teenagers and I hoped that I could offer them a welcoming and non-judgmental household. I was homeless myself once, and have always had a strong social conscience.

“The best bit about being a Stepping Stones carer is when the young people feel settled and you can tell they are less stressed than when they arrived. It is great when they trust you and they come and talk to you about events in their lives or their day. The money makes a difference too – it’s not ‘well paid’ but I feel my soft skills and lifetime’s work (bringing up three children in difficult circumstances) are being recognised and rewarded.

“Stepping Stones carers need to be warm, supportive, non-judgmental and actually like the company of young people. The young people need to be able to express themselves, form their own opinions, congregate in friendship groups and venture out into the wider world. The role of a carer is to facilitate this – to be back-up and support when needed, offer guidance if asked for and be a steady secure space to return to.  I really enjoy it and I feel like I might be making a difference to a few people’s lives, in a small way, from my own home.”

Come along to the information event on Saturday 16 August, visit our fostering website for more information and to request an information pack: www.fosteringinsomerset.org.uk or call 0800 587 9900.