National Care Leavers Week – More ‘Stepping Stones’ needed in Somerset

This National Care Leavers week (25-31 October) Somerset County Council is highlighting the need to recruit more ‘Stepping Stones’ carers to support young Care Leavers. 
 
Care Leavers are defined as young people and adults who have spent time under the care of the Local Authority. 
 
Stepping Stones carers support young care leavers aged 16 – 21, who are making the transition from care to independent living, but are not yet ready to live on their own. This involves providing them with a safe place to stay, helping them gain crucial life skills and experience such as managing bills, cooking and shopping, and encouraging them to seek further opportunities in education or employment. 
 
Donna from StreetStepping Stones carer for almost 2 years, explained how she feels the rewards of her role far outweigh the challenges: 

The best thing for me is seeing them succeed.  From the small things like finishing the washing up or bringing their clothes in from the line to holding down a job or finishing some important paperwork. Seeing that smile on their face of ‘I just did that’ and ‘I can do this’ is priceless.  It’s worth all the frustrating days of getting a young person up and motivated. 
 
My young person has recently moved into a flat and is living independently.  Through 18 months of time, patience and understanding I was able to bring out the best in him and set him up with life skills to enable this.  An anxious, nervous, teen who wasn’t going to college and had little interest in much is now living alone, holding down a full time job and is thriving. This is why I do what I do. 

 

Councillor Frances Nicholson, Lead Member for Children’s Services at Somerset County Council, said “Stepping Stones placements help provide the building blocks of independence, allowing Care Leavers to take on more responsibility for looking after themselves gradually, much like teenagers and young people living in their family homes do. It’s important our young care leavers have continued support as they move forwards, so they can achieve their true potential.” 

 
Stepping Stones placements are relatively short; anything from a few months to a couple of yearsand a Stepping Stones carer can continue to work alongside their caring role. 
 
As a ‘Stepping Stones’ carer, you need to be aged 23 or over, have a spare room in your home, and, ideally, live in a Somerset town as it’s important our care leavers have access to good transport links and amenities, as well as career opportunities. In return, providers receive a weekly fee, starting at £188 per week, plus a little extra for food and utilities (up to £27.50) paid weekly by the young person from their allowance. Stepping Stones providers are also eligible for the same tax exemptions and relief as foster carers, but have much more flexibility to work full or part-time alongside their care role. 

There is no upper age limit, wisdom and experience are a bonus. We welcome people from all backgrounds and ethnicities, those who are single, LGBT, renting or if you have children of your own already. 

 

For more information on Stepping Stones care or fostering, visit http://www.fosteringinsomerset.org.ukfollow us on Facebook and Instagram, or call 0800 587 9900. You can also email the team at 
SteppingStonesTeamLeavingCare@somerset.gov.uk