Barnardo’s unveils Stirling homes for young people leaving care

Barnardo's unveils Stirling homes for young people leaving care

An innovative housing project designed to support young people at the point of leaving care has been launched in Stirling by Barnardo’s Scotland.

Working with local services and construction firm Morris & Spottiswood, the children’s charity has built five ‘Gap Homes’, which are purpose-built houses for young people leaving the care system.

A Gap Home provides high quality, affordable and additional housing for care-experienced young people, and provides the opportunity for a young person to live in a new property in an established community with support available to them from Barnardo’s.

The Gap Homes programme was developed by Barnardo’s in response to the lack of suitable housing and support available to young people at the point of leaving care. Poor quality housing and a lack of support increases the likelihood of homelessness. This is exacerbated by a lack of suitable accommodation for young people preparing to live independently. Stirling is one of numerous sites across the UK where Barnardo’s is constructing Gap Homes, with existing Gap Homes in Renfrewshire and Essex – and more to come.

Barnardo's unveils Stirling homes for young people leaving care

Martin Crewe

This Gap Homes project in Stirling could only be made possible by the support of other organisations and funding raised by players of People’s Postcode Lottery. Players have raised more than £14.8 million for Barnardo’s since 2018. These funds awarded by Postcode Children Trust have helped to build these and other Gap Homes.

Martin Crewe, the director of Barnardo’s Scotland, said: “It can be very difficult for young people leaving care to live alone for the first time, especially when it comes to running a home on a limited budget. Gap Homes create a safe and stable environment in which young people can thrive. What’s more, they are built in established communities and have low running costs.

“The current housing crisis means that there’s not a lot of available housing, let alone for young people leaving care. The latest Gap Homes development in Stirling forms part of the fight to tackle the lack of suitable accommodation for care leavers.

“Our Gap Homes projects are closely aligned with our vow to keep The Promise. The Promise is the outcome of Scotland’s independent care review and is about ensuring every child in Scotland grows up safe, loved and respected. Part of our overall work at Barnardo’s in responding to The Promise is increasing the opportunity for care experienced people to access employment, training, stable housing and support.”

Barnardo's unveils Stirling homes for young people leaving care

One young person, who is benefitting from a Gap Home in another part of the country, is in no doubt at the value of this facility.

‘Alison’ said: “I had been living in care for several years from the age of 16 before moving into a Gap Home and I had stayed in three places in that short space of time. I finally moved to my lovely place where I have been living since November 2023 with the support of the Barnardo’s team. I feel like it’s my home with a beautiful view and a nice and calming environment.

“I was not a happy person where I was living previously as we would always have issues with things like the heating or hot water not working and mould. This would go on for months at a time, and our complaints never seemed to matter. Because of that, I ended up having to repeatedly move house. But, with Gap Homes, I have everything that I need and more. I truly appreciate Barnardo’s for their support and for changing my life for the better.”

Elizabeth McShane, the UK head of business of Gap Homes at Barnardo’s, said: “At Barnardo’s, we have a strong track record in supporting young people to develop the skills they need to succeed in reaching independence as adults. Offering purpose-built accommodation for care leavers, we will also provide practical and emotional support, for up to two years, for those who need it the most. We believe Gap Homes has the potential to transform the lives of care leavers across the country, giving them the fresh start they deserve.”

Barnardo's unveils Stirling homes for young people leaving care

Elizabeth McShane

Young people are expected to be resident in a Gap Home for up to two years. As landlord, Barnardo’s can offer flexibility on the length of tenure, reflecting each young person’s individual needs.

Laura Chow, head of charities at People’s Postcode Lottery, said: “Leaving home and moving into your first place can be daunting, even more so for young people who are care experienced. The new Gap Homes in Stirling will help them to navigate the next stage of their lives, giving them the support they need so they can successfully live independently, and I’m so pleased that this is being supported thanks to money raised by our players.”

In the past year, Barnardo’s provided essential support to more than 11,500 children, young people, parents and carers in Scotland through more than 150 specialised community-based services and partnerships across the country. The charity works to ensure that every child has the best possible start in life. To donate, volunteer or fundraise, please visit here.

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