New housing project to support West Sussex care leavers

A housing project for young people who have been in care in West Sussex has been given the green light by West Sussex County Council’s Cabinet today.

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The scheme, which is part of a National House Project, will provide supported and affordable accommodation to care leavers aged 16-18, giving them stability as they prepare for independence.

Cabinet members voted to approve a £250,000 spend to fund a local house project for an initial three-years, after discussing the benefits of the project at last week’s meeting (Friday January 22).

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The scheme will provide ten to 15 young people with accommodation which they will have a say in decorating and furnishing.

They will be assisted by a specialist team who will help them manage their own tenancy and help provide any additional emotional or practical support they need.

Jacquie Russell, cabinet member for children and young people, said: “Children in care deserve the same opportunities as any other child, yet evidence shows that this isn’t always the case. That’s why my cabinet colleagues and I are delighted to approve this amazing project, which is already being run successfully in other areas of the country.

“This is a first for care leavers in West Sussex, and will allow those living together to support each other as they learn the skills they need to move into adulthood.”

The National House Project is part of the Department for Education’s Innovation Programme and operates successful schemes around the country.

Young people who have benefited have spoken about the positive impact on their lives:

• “It’s not all about, oh you’re just getting a flat and you’re just going to move in. It’s about meeting new people. You learn new things…money management, how to cook.”

• “The House Project is like a safety net for [us] care leavers.”

The Local House Project will be managed and run by West Sussex County Council with support and guidance from the National House Project. It is anticipated that the scheme will reduce the overall amount the county council spends on expensive residential placements and deliver £1m of savings over the next two years.

The county council will now look to secure local and affordable housing with a view to the housing scheme being operational in the spring this year.