Cumbria County Council is in urgent need of 30 carers for the 'Homestays' initiative for the next year.
The initiative, which launched in Cumbria in 2012, offers a home environment for young people, aged 16-25, who are in need of support for a variety of reasons; including leaving foster care or due to an adoption breakdown.
Currently, Cumbria County Council has around 80 Homestays carers across Cumbria who support young people on their journey to independent living.
As most young people tend to stay in Homestays placements for up to three years there is an urgent need to recruit 30 more carers for the initiative during the next 12 months.
Retired foster carers, Eileen and Richard Binstead have been Homestays carers for four years. Eileen said: “We fostered for 16 years and then decided to have a break and go back as Homestays carers, which we felt would be more flexible for us.
“Since then we’ve had six young people come to live with us and have found it very rewarding helping older children coming into care to prepare for independent living.
“We’ve raised three sons of our own and I wouldn’t have liked to see them embark on an independent life without some help, so I can see how essential this support can be for young people in care.
“I think our experience as parents and of fostering gave us a very good grounding to take on Homestays caring and it’s worked well for us.”
The couple are currently Homestays carers for 19-year-old Angel, who’s been living with them since she was 16. Eileen said: “It’s been very gratifying to see how she’s developed in her time with us. She suffered a lot of rejection in her life and it was very difficult at first trying to connect with her.
“But, with our support and reassurance, she has flourished and achieved so much; completing a college course and recently starting her first full-time job. She’s an excellent example of what Homestays can help young people achieve.”
Angel is also very positive about her Homestays experience. She said: “I was placed with Eileen and Richard when my adoption broke down and I have never looked back. I now see them as my family because they give me the support that I never received when I was adopted and they have encouraged me to take on new things.”
Team Manager, Homestays & Fostering Supervision & Support, Margaret Brennand, said: “As one of our Homestays carers you have the opportunity to support a young person on their road to independence; helping them to learn new skills and reach their potential, while all the time being fully supported by our Homestays advisors.
“With a time commitment of seven to 10 hours each week, many people find this a more flexible alternative to fostering, as they can continue to work full time, while still having the satisfaction of knowing they are helping a young person take their first steps to independent living in a safe, caring environment.”
Interested in becoming a Homestays provider?
Ideally you are a person who understands and likes teenagers and has an insight into the unique pressures and needs of young people.
You will be required to offer 7-10 hours of your time to supporting a young person in developing independent living skills such as budgeting, laundry and cooking.
You must have a spare room in your home, though where a Homestays carer is unable to accommodate a young person they may still be considered to offer support for a young person who is living independently, in their own accommodation.
Providers go through a formal approval process where DBS checks are sought. The process takes between 5-8 months.
Homestays carers are offered the opportunity to develop their skills through the Fostering Service training programme and to be involved in support groups.
Carers are also fully supported by a dedicated Homestays Advisor.