We like to think of ourselves as the “central hub for social work and care” at One Stop Social, so from time to time we like to review front-line services who we think contribute positively to the sector we care so much about and who we feel our extended One Stop Social audience should know more about. Care and Community are one such service. They define themselves as “a provider of quality semi-supported accommodation”, proving that a focus on quality is an integral value throughout the company. With a semi-independent living program offering residential accommodation to 16-18 year olds leaving the care system, Care and Community are establishing themselves as a leader in social care sector.
Care and Community began on a football field of all places. One of the now-Director’s teammates was working part-time in the social care sector in Fylde, focusing his work around encouraging young people in care to get involved in sport and leisure activities. As part of this work, he brought along a 15 year old young man to one of the football teams evening training sessions. As the Director recollects, “this lad had been on a now leading premier league books as a schoolboy, but then fell in with the wrong crowd and had been sent to what was known as Fylde Farm at the time. We got chatting over a few training sessions, and my teammate and I talked about how unfortunate it was that this young lad had lost both his freedom and potentially lucrative career”. These conversations led them to realise there weren’t many opportunities waiting for the young man once he turned 16, and led him to think about what he could do to change that. He began looking into setting up a provision that could help 16-18 year olds who were leaving care, and thus began Care and Community.
Care and Community offers more than just a roof over your head to young people, they support the development and maturing of children who used to be in care into active adults in society. They place a great importance on supporting the facilitation of education for their service users, by giving them access to training courses, employment opportunities or colleges and private educational organisations. By supporting their learning, the service users feel their achievements are recognised and rewarded, thereby improving the feelings of self-worth and self-confidence which are so important for young people. This encouragement goes beyond just academic qualifications, as Care and Community try to make sure their service users are also participating in extracurricular, cultural and social activities so that their begin to build full, enriched lives for themselves. It can be easy to underestimate the value of enjoying some leisure time with friends, but at the age of 17, it can help mould you into an engaging person who can achieve more, both educationally and socially. Care and Community are well aware of this.
Their support for their service users as complex individuals full of potential extends into a program of “Ongoing Life Skills” centered around financial wellbeing, safety, health, ways to make a positive contribution to the world and preparing them to move on from the care system into independence. Service users are taught to budget their weekly allowance and helped through applications for bursaries or grants; along with general advice on how to manage normal household bills once they become independent. The Care and Community team also ensure that all vaccinations and immunisations are up to date, as well as following medical advice on vision and hearing checks. They work to make sure that every young person they care for has good physical, emotional, mental and sexual health and can make informed choices about their own health once they are looking after themselves.
We have been aware of Care and Community’s excellent services on offer practically since One Stop Social began – and we loved partnering with them for our first convention back in June – but it’s not just us who are impressed! Their website has a section dedicated to testimonials, where service users are given the chance to pass on feedback, and the reviews are glowing! “If I didn’t have you lot I don’t know what I would have done” “Being at Veronica House really changed my life” and “I will never forget you all” are just some of the ways the young people who have been supported by Care and Community think back on their time. And really, their opinions on the service are the most valuable of all!