As part of National Care Leavers’ Week (25 October – 1 November), a Somerset foster family is sharing the rewards of Stepping Stones care; a scheme which provides support for young people transitioning from care to independent living.
For many young people faced with leaving care, the transition can be daunting and full of challenges. From gaining crucial life skills such as cooking and cleaning to simply having someone around to offer advice and guidance – Stepping Stones carers provide a vital link for teenagers leaving the care of Somerset Council, helping them develop the emotional stability and practical skills they need for adulthood through living with a caring and supportive family.
Jazz, a young person who previously lived in a residential care home, is currently benefiting from the support of Stepping Stones carers, Andy and Suzanne.
We’ve done all sorts. Some cooking, some cleaning… we even made a roast the other day. We’ve also gone out for meals and days out.
Suzanne and Andy, who have been approved carers for just over 2 years, were motivated to pursue the role due to a desire to make a difference. Suzanne said:
Our own children flourished, and we wanted to give the same opportunity to young people in care. What I really like about being a Stepping Stones carer is seeing young people developing into adulthood and becoming more independent.0
Andy, a retired police officer said:
They may be nervous about doing something when they first get here, but after a bit of encouragement and guidance you can see them maturing, becoming confident in their own abilities. It’s very rewarding.
And the support from the team has been fantastic’.
Alongside training and support, Stepping Stones carers receive weekly payments of £189.31 per week, plus a little extra towards food and utilities paid by the young person from their allowance.
Cllr Tessa Munt, Somerset Council’s Lead Member for Children, Families and Education, commended the dedication of Stepping Stones carers and the positive impact they have on the lives of care leavers:
Many Looked After Children nationwide face abrupt moves into living independently without carers like Andy and Suzanne, who fulfil an incredible job by providing essential support and guidance to young people, allowing them to embark on safe, secure and successful lives.
Jazz, Suzanne and Andy are a shining example of the Stepping Stones scheme at its best.
Somerset Council is actively recruiting for new Stepping Stones carers due to an urgent need for more homes to support teenagers like Jazz.
Interested applicants need to be over 23 with a spare room in their home, and ideally live in a Somerset town or village with good transport links and access to amenities for young people.
For more information about Stepping Stones and other fostering opportunities, please visit fosteringinsomerset.org.uk or call 0800 587 9900. You’re not committing to anything by getting in touch, and you could help change a child’s story.