Stepping towards independence

A scheme giving young people living in care the support and skills to start their lives as independent adults is seeking households to help them.

Somerset County Council’s Stepping Stones initiative for 16 to 21 year olds is looking for enthusiastic, compassionate people, living in Somerset’s main towns, to become carers. A large part of the role is mentoring teenagers and young adults in important life skills, including managing their money, learning to cook for themselves, and doing their washing.

It also involves instilling confidence in the young person, and helping them work towards their goals in the wider world – whether that is pursuing further or higher education, an apprenticeship, finding worthwhile employment, or developing their social skills.

Pam and Bryan are Stepping Stones carers from Street and have been married for over 60 years. 14 years ago, having fostered young children for decades, they took the plunge to give young people crucial support.

crop Bryan and Pam

Reflecting on why they feel being a Stepping Stones carer is so worthwhile, Pam says: “It’s the big things; giving them life skills – cooking and washing for themselves, learning how to manage your money. The girl we have currently in placement is now doing her own budgeting and cooking. We had a meeting with social services the other day, and they are really pleased with her progress…it can also be about helping them rebuild key relationships. To give you an example, we helped one boy get back in touch with, and meet up with, his mother, which was really nice.”

As to the advice they would give to someone considering becoming a Stepping Stones carer, Bryan says: “It’s fantastic to see them change. Some of the young people who arrive can look like frightened lambs when they first walk in through the door. But then you see them develop, see them grow and leave, and then come back to see us with their boyfriends or girlfriends, three years after they’ve left. To us, that makes it very worthwhile.”

Pam adds: “Just give it a go. You have always got the social work team behind you, and someone you can call. There’s always the Emergency Duty Team on hand if you need urgent support. And it may sound like an obvious thing to say, but it is really, really rewarding, and when they come back to see you as well, afterwards.”

To read Pam and Bryan’s full interview, click here: 

To find out more about helping a young person into adulthood as a Stepping Stones carer, phone 0800 587 9900 or visit

Or you can join us at one of our next information events:

  • Thursday 19 May 2016, Costa Coffee Wells, BA5 2SG, 7pm-9pm – a specific event about fostering older children and young people
  • Monday 23 May 2016, 7pm to 9pm at Taunton Holiday Inn, TA1 2UA – an event about all fostering schemes.