Trust staff to take tea with the Queen

Members of a team helping to deliver an imaginative Department for Education-funded scheme for care leavers in Doncaster have had a right Royal invite to attend the Queen’s Garden Party.

Mags Silvester, Manager of the House Project at Doncaster Children’s Services Trust and Mica Ferrol, a support worker on the project, are to travel to Buckingham Palace for the glitzy event in May.

They have been chosen to represent the Doncaster scheme, along with representatives from the four other House Projects around the country.

The schemes have been established in response to the fact that a high percentage of tenancies among care leavers fail because they are not prepared for independent living when they come out of care at the age of 18. This is, says Mags, not only in Doncaster but a national problem, with a large amount of care leavers experiencing homelessness between 6 and 24 months after leaving care and moving to their own properties.

By preparing care leavers better for independent adult life, it is hoped the House Project will help break that cycle. The idea is for groups of ten 16/17 year-olds to form a supportive community among themselves, with the first Doncaster group having been selected and now undergoing preparation work ahead of moving into a property.

The young people will be supported in choosing which affordable area of Doncaster they would each like to live in and St Leger Homes will assist in identifying suitable affordable and sustainable properties in those areas, when the young person has finished their induction programme. At this point, the young people will be given a budget to renovate their property. They will also receive intensive support from the Trust’s House Project Team. The team will guide the group towards becoming independent ahead of them turning 18.

Commenting on the Royal invite, Mica, herself a care leaver, said: “When Mags first told me about it I thought it was a joke. I’m really excited and haven’t stopped looking for dresses since.”

Mags said: “It’s a real honour. It’s a great recognition of the House Project, which is all about equipping care leavers to take ownership and responsibility for their own future. It teaches them how to rely on their peers rather than on professionals.”

Mica added: “The scheme has made a massive difference already. The group’s communication skills, for example, have really developed; and we even have one young person on the national House Project Steering Group to which he takes the views of other Doncaster young people.”

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