Your spare room could change a teenager’s life

Somerset Young Care Leavers are releasing a series of ‘Get to Know Us’ videos as part of National Care Leavers’ Week ((24 October – 31 October), in a bid to break down stereotypes and encourage people to consider using their spare room to help a vulnerable teenager.

Young Care Leavers and Somerset County Council are working together to highlight the urgent need to recruit more ‘Stepping Stones’ carers, who support young teens as they enter adult life. Stepping Stones carers support young people age 16 and over with the challenges they face as care leavers. They help them make the step into independent adulthood and gain crucial life skills and experience.

Stepping Stones carer Linda and Annabel

Annabel 17 and Linda live together in Bridgwater in a Stepping Stones placement. Linda has been a Stepping Stones carer for many years now, partly with her husband and then as a single carer after he died. She shares how great it feels to help Annabel and all the other vulnerable young people she has housed and mentored: “I really enjoy it. The Stepping Stones team are so good at matching the right young people with the right carer and they’re very supportive. Some placements have worked so well for us we’ve had them with us well into their twenties. We still get Christmas cards and photos of the families they went on to have.

Sue in Frome is a Stepping Stones carer and she explained why it works for her: “After my divorce and my kids had gone off to university the house felt a bit lonely really. I enjoy having the company and a young person around again, plus I love knowing that I’m making someone else’s life better!”

Charlotte in Glastonbury had a tough childhood and has shared how the dedication of her Stepping Stones carer Jo changed her life: “She is such a lovely person. I really like my room and knowing I always have a safety net to go back to has really helped me start studying again and gain work experience.”

Councillor Frances Nicholson, Lead Member for Children’s Services at Somerset County Council, said: “We are so grateful for the hard work and dedication of our Stepping Stones carers. We need to recruit at least 17 more of them to meet the needs of young people leaving care in the county. The scheme is invaluable in helping care leavers gain life skills, offers them a safe space and helps prevent them ending up in vulnerable situations as they become an adult.”

Stepping Stones placements are relatively short; anything from a few months to a couple of years. Stepping Stones carers receive an allowance and the same tax exemptions and relief as foster carers, but also can continue to work alongside their caring role.

Carers need:

  • To be over 21
  • To have a spare room
  • To ideally live in or near a Somerset town to allow young people easier access to study and/or work.
  • Enjoy a challenge

If you are interested, we would love to hear from you. For more information and more videos of teenagers and foster carers please visit www.fosteringinsomerset.org.uk or call 0800 5879900