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Grant Awarded: £15,000

Current Phase: Implementation

Innovate to Save FABRIC ylab

Since 2016, FABRIC (which stands for Facilitating Aspirations, Building Resilience and Inspiring Change) has provided support and semi-independent accommodation to young people who are either looked-after children or care leavers in Swansea. FABRIC assists these young people on their journey to independence by helping them to develop living skills, engage in education, training or employment, and to address any other related areas of their lives.

The idea

FABRIC identified a need for ‘step-down’ accommodation amongst young people currently living in and transitioning out of care. Rather than being thrust out of a supported accommodation setting into fully independent living, FABRIC sought to provide a bridge between the two, offering rented homes that also incorporated some of the support structures offered in FABRIC’s supported accommodation.

As part of their accommodation, young people would receive support in things like understanding bills and council tax, exploring training and employment opportunities, and successfully transitioning into adult life.

It was anticipated that improving routes out of existing provision, where spaces are limited, would improve the flow of young people into FABRIC’s existing fully supported accommodation, with potential savings to the Local Authority of up to £2,497 a week where emergency accommodation was not required.

What happened?

Under Innovate to Save’s R&D phase, FABRIC took on two rental properties to test the feasibility of their ‘step-down’ provision idea. These properties were set up to enable young people to move out of fully-supported accommodation and into their own property. Living together meant that the young people were able to support each other as they began their journey to gain skills before living independently, in addition to the support that FABRIC provides.

Research and design sessions with the young people cared for by FABRIC confirmed that pathways currently on offer to them fail to provide a clear plan for successfully transitioning to independence. Their R&D work also demonstrated a unique opportunity for FABRIC to provide this pathway, since the organisation and its workers were highly trusted by young people using their service and were recognised as having strong working relationships.

Over the course of the R&D phase of Innovate to Save, FABRIC revised staff structures and job roles allowing them to better respond to the challenges they encountered during the development of their ‘step-down’ model.

Insights

  • Some of FABRIC’s research progress was hindered by a lack of available data. It is vital to ensure that robust systems are in place to ensure that record-keeping is sufficient to support any research opportunities that are planned or could take place in the future.
  • FABRIC’s work demonstrates the need to expect the unexpected when it comes to undertaking research and development. Timescales were challenging for FABRIC as unanticipated maintenance problems arose with the rented Community Accommodation properties.
  • Sometimes, projects take organisations on unexpected journeys. FABRIC’s experience with Innovate to Save demonstrated a need and gave them the space to reconceive their staffing structure and roles.

What's next?

FABRIC have developed a business case to scale up their provision of step-down accommodation for young care leavers in Swansea.

This case study is also available in Welsh.