When a teenager goes to university or moves out most parents enjoy the peace and quiet – but for how long?
When Yvonne Kent’s son – the youngest of three – left their Birnam home for Edinburgh last year, she planned to bring in a lodger to help cover household costs.
Instead, the 58-year-old environmental scientist signed up to Perth and Kinross Council’s new supported lodgings scheme, which offers a safe place to live for young people when they leave care.
Under the initiative, the provider offers a home to someone aged over 16 and helps them prepare for adult life, before they go out on their own.
It is seen as a “stepping stone” and the provider does not have parental responsibility.
Yvonne started the scheme in December. She said: “When my son went off to university I thought the house was going to be very empty and quiet.
“I was going to get a lodger to bring in some extra money then I saw the advert for the support lodgings scheme and thought it’s a really worthwhile thing to do.
“My teenage years were not easy and my family environment wasn’t great so I thought being a stable mentor, which I didn’t have, would be a good thing to do.”
Although there have been small hurdles to overcome, Yvonne said they are the same challenges she faced with her own children and she has been supported by a coordinator provided by the council.
“It hasn’t been any harder than I expected it to be,” she said.
“I help with everything from helping them learn how to cook and budget to giving emotional support.
“With your own children there are various things to overcome which vary from child to child so it hasn’t been hugely more challenging than my own children were at that age.”
Periodic reviews will be held during the young person’s time with Yvonne. They will stay with her until they are ready to live independently.
Yvonne, who works from home, said she would recommend the role but advised anyone considering it to think carefully before signing up.
“For someone who has been in the care system, the worst thing you can do is dip your toe in then decide you don’t want to do it anymore,” she said.
“Commitment is the real biggie because it’s all about the stability you can offer in those crucial years
“Saying that, I would absolutely do it again, work permitting. It’s so rewarding seeing them flourish, make their own decisions and be able to do things more and more to move forward in their life.
“When they become adults and things like fostering stop becoming options, knowing I have been able to offer a safe and stable environment, nurturing them and helping them is what it is all about for me.”
Supported lodgings providers are given a support worker, a weekly payment and any necessary training.
The council is currently looking for more people to get involved.
A council spokeswoman said: “The progression to adult life can often be hard for young people leaving care and it can lead them into difficult situations.
“Supported lodgings providers do not have parental responsibility for their lodger, but are there to offer guidance and support, alongside the through-care and after-care team, to help the young person to develop some of the more practical skills such as cooking, budgeting, cleaning or managing appointments. You would also offer support to their emotional and physical wellbeing.”
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