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Changing the way young people leave care

In this blog, CEO of FABRIC, Harri Coleman, talks about her experiences working with young people in care and how the organisation was built to support them.

As FABRIC, we opened our first accommodation in 2016 and since that time we have been aware of a severe lack of suitable 'move-on' accommodation for young people leaving care.

Children who have been through the care system in Wales are three times more likely to be cautioned or convicted of an offence and four times more likely to have a mental health disorder.

These disadvantages continue into adulthood since:

  • 20% of homeless people are care leavers
  • 25% of adult prisoners have been in care
  • 70% of sex workers have been in care.

This is just a small selection of the poor outcomes which care leavers experience.

The primary objective of FABRIC is to “Facilitate Aspirations, Build Resilience and Inspire Change” in the FABRIC Kids who have been in care, and to provide equal opportunities in comparison to their peers. The outcomes which the current system produces are significantly lower than their peers in the general population and indicate that “corporate parenting” is not achieving the goal of expecting no less of children in care than of our own children.

Innovate to Save

The grant stage of Innovate to Save allowed us to trial our Community Accommodation Service via the provision of a grant. This allowed us to rent properties in the area and learn lessons about what works and what doesn’t to allow us to create a solid process for the future.

As expected, the trial showed that renting properties adds additional stresses in process as any issues have to go through a third party (letting agent) and that the tenancies have to run in line with the tenancies FABRIC holds with the letting agencies. This confirmed our desire to apply for a loan to buy the Community Accommodation properties.

As is standard in the social care sector, things don’t always go to plan and we ended up having to find a house to buy and get to exchange in 14 days; this was not an easy task but as always Team FABRIC pulled together to ensure we achieved the challenge. The FABRIC Kids have described the property as “lovely, way nicer than we expected, it’s what we would expect in our thirties.”

We are really pleased to have been awarded a £400,000 loan through Innovate to Save that will enable us to buy Community Accommodation houses and support more young people.

It is an exciting time for Team FABRIC as we are in the process of expanding our provision into Neath Port Talbot and are receiving interest from other authorities who have assessed a need for our service in their area.

During the past years, we have outgrown our brand, which (although we love it!) no longer reflects or describes what we do, nor how we do it. We are working hard developing a completely new identity scheme. We are keeping the name, only our logo and communication materials will change.

As FABRIC grows, the number of FABRIC Kids we support will rise. We've established the FABRIC Foundation (our registered charity) will need to grow in order to provide activities and experiences to improve the physical and emotional wellbeing of all the FABRIC Kids.

Author

Harri Coleman

Harri spent several years working as a social worker. In 2016 she created Fabric, which provides high-quality care and support for young people aged 16 and 17 in the care system. She...