I have been a Supported Lodgings provider for over 29 years and came into the role as a single parent when my children were still quite young. We are still in touch with a number of these young people today and we consider them as part of our extended family.
I first heard about the scheme when I came across an advert in my local Quick save store. I remember thinking “What happens to these young people when they are no longer able to live with their own families.” The advert touched a nerve with me and I started asking myself “What would happen to mine if anything happened to me.”
So I went into the role with the view “I will do for young people what I would have wanted others to do for my children if I wasn’t around.”
I am very clear with these young people from the start and my approach has not changed over the years – “Treat my home and the people in it as you would wish to be treated in return.” I base my relationship with them on trust unless I find I can’t.
If something doesn’t sit quite right with me I am very honest and open with them. I share my concern in a firm but fair way and have a discussion with them, stating something is not working, it needs to change. Once we have addressed it we can move forward. I never hold grudges.
The find the role suits me because I enjoy the company of young people. It’s seeing them develop and succeed in something, however small, that brings me the rewards. I always wanted a big family, it gratifies me – I have four of my own.
I like it when you can help by teaching new skills, having fun with them, doing the simplest of tasks together. Taking time out to talk to them, sometimes till the early hours of the morning when my children were asleep, helped me to develop a relationship with them.
I have learnt to listen to young people and re-phrase things while encouraging them to think about things differently.
A lot of young people I work with suffer with anxieties, eating disorders and some self –harm. Many have been unable to address their issues whilst living with their own families and need that time apart. They often don’t return home since they feel they are ready to move on to independent living when they leave me. Whilst hopefully their relationships have improved and a link has been made.
I don’t take disappointments personally and I don’t judge these young people. Instead I respect what they have gone through and deal with them kindly and carefully even when sometimes their habits or their language or maybe their hygiene may challenge you. It’s important to accept them and never judge or criticise them.
One young person told me “You’ve always been there for me, even when everyone else turned their back on me and you’ll never understand how grateful I am for that, I’ll never forget.”
I enjoy being busy. The role involves working with a number of professionals who support these young people, whilst the training and support visits help me to build on the skills I have gained over the years. I feel I will never retire in this role and to think, for years I ran my work alongside it.
The support is there. Mandy, the Supported Lodgings Co-ordinator is fantastic, she always gives me as much information she knows on the young person and I place a lot of trust in our relationship.
So if you are thinking of coming forward to find out more about Supported Lodgings then go for it. You’ll be doing a lot of good by helping these young people to move forward and achieve something with their lives. Helping them to develop their confidence and take that step towards a better future can only be a good thing.