Care leavers have designed a new service for Salford teenagers that could prevent those on the verge of going into children’s homes being sent out of the area.
The service is based in the Route29 hub, which opened in Eccles on January 8, and allows young people who are in care in Salford to get instant access to the professional support they need in their area.
The hub houses a team of specialists, including a psychologist, a speech and language therapist, educational psychologist and a police officer to help young people in foster care where the placement is about to break down, or those on the edge of care where parents can no longer cope.
The service is designed to all users to live at home and receive help from the hub during the day, but where necessary, they will be able to stay overnight on a short-term basis.
A spokesman for Salford City Council said the job roles were set by young people who who have experienced care themselves.
One of the service designers, who wished to remain anonymous, said: ‘We have gone through the system and wanted to use our experience to make it better for young people. Rather than let somebody else choose for us, we have made the decisions.
‘It’s completely different, we had to get it right and we were listened to.
‘As a child in care you don’t always feel safe. You need the right staff, with the right skills, attitude and support from other professionals to work with each child and get the best experience for them.
‘Everybody had an opinion on the new name, so in the end we did an online poll where young people got to vote from about ten options. We wanted to use the word ‘route’, because as a young person in care are you are on a journey from A to B.
‘We added 29 as it is the number of the building which we designed. So it’s now Route29. It makes me proud to say it.’
Salford City Mayor, Paul Dennett, said: ‘This new way of working follows a system that was developed in North Yorkshire and has been very successful.
‘We handed proposals over to young people who have been in care and they have shaped it using their own experiences.
‘They were brutally honest, they told us the type of staff they wanted employed – and they were very vocal after the interviews about who would fit in with the service and who wouldn’t.
‘The young people have done a fantastic job and we’d like to thank them for all their hard work and invaluable knowledge. I am also delighted that two of our care leavers applied for jobs at Route29 and start in post very soon.’
Photo Credit – Salford City Council