Amy’s been with the council since September working on the My Place project. Part of this innovative project involves housing care experienced young people with peer flatmates.
Amy’s role is managed by Who Cares? Scotland and funded by the Life Changes Trust, who also part-fund the project. The post is shared between housing strategy and social work, which helps form a link between the two services.
“It’s a really good opportunity,” Amy said about the project, which looks to help with social isolation among care experienced young people and to reduce homelessness in the longer term by providing secure and stable housing. The council will buy ten properties from open market over three years, which will each be home to two care experienced young people and one peer flatmate. All residents will get housing support from two specialised housing officers, social work, and the Rock Trust.
Currently the focus is on recruiting student peer flatmates, who will benefit from training and ongoing support from the Rock Trust along with free rent and Wi-Fi. The peer flatmate will be able to share their experience of independent living with the care experienced young people.
Amy will also be writing a home and belonging strategy for care experienced young people. “My title is Research and Link Worker. The research is on home and belonging for care experienced people, so that’s my main job,” Amy explains. “The ‘link’ part is about involving care experienced people in the project, finding out their personal experiences and opinions on housing to shape change.”
“Hopefully through the strategy we can create a place where all care experienced people feel that they belong and have a sense of home.” Amy explained that this can be hard, especially for young people who have been placed outwith East Lothian.
This is Amy’s first office job and she’s enjoying it so far. “It’s such a new experience! I like coming in to work, it’s really good to work with so many different people. I’m not in the office all day, I’m out and about meeting people and getting different opinions.”
Amy also likes working alongside the East Lothian Champions Board, which gives care experienced young people a platform to shape the services and support available to them. She’s looking forward to running a session on home and belonging to help her write the strategy.
“Some of the young people are in supported accommodation, then there’s people with foster carers or in residential units. They’re all in completely different circumstances so it’s good having that range of experiences. One young person on the board is thinking about the peer flatmate scheme as a good option,” Amy explains.
The idea of My Place has gone down well with the Champs so far. “They all seemed really keen for it and interested because it’s different. It’s a lot less institutional than supported accommodation, and it’s probably more homely as well,” Amy said.
Amy will be in post for a year and a half, then she’s hoping to study at uni to become a social worker. “This job’s really good experience for what I want to do, so hopefully after my time here I’ll have gained some knowledge and good references for when I apply to do that.”