Each House Project is a small, local business, co-constructed with young people themselves to maximise their ownership. The young people, with adult support, learn to project manage the refurbishment of properties which become their homes.
Following a successful pilot in Stoke-on-Trent, the project gained funding to set up the National House Project, develop the framework and support five new local House Projects (Islington, Oxfordshire, Warwickshire, Rotherham and Doncaster) The National House Project was incorporated as a Charity in August 2018.
A third of care leavers experience homelessness between 6-24 months after leaving care. By doing it differently, the pilot had a 90 per cent success rate for tenancy stability and a transformative effect on young people's life chances.
Jason's film shows how a young man, who had lived in residential care and become homeless, was able to find a new home and new hope through the project.
We need to change the experience of leaving care.
Luke, who lived independently from 18, tells us: ‘When you first get told that you are moving to live independently, it is really scary; it is the scariest thought in the world'.
As Marc, who also lived independently from 18, puts it: ‘You're moving out; you're straight out there; you're on your own.'
‘We need pride. Coming from the care system it's difficult to find something to be proud of.'
These challenges were recognised by the project at its inception. In the drive to change outcomes, we made a commitment to young people's ownership. We needed to ‘do' leaving care better and differently. It was not enough to provide a nice flat in a nice area. This did not get to the heart of the issues. Our young people did not want to be ‘done to' or ‘done for', they wanted to be able to take back control and not be alone.
James, another care leaver, points out: ‘You're with other people so you don't feel alone.'
The results of its pilot phase are powerful. Nothing exemplified this power more than the visit of Edward Timpson, former Minister of State for Vulnerable Children and Families to the project in Stoke.
As Jade says during the visit: ‘I'd compare the House Project to a tree; we've planted it and we're growing up. We're all together and we're all going up.'
The first phase was exciting. The second phase now has the potential to transform the lives of many, many more care leavers, giving them ownership and pride in doing things for themselves, a safe place to live and a community of support.
‘I feel like I am not going out there alone now,' says Mia. ‘That is different to how I felt before the House Project started.'