Supported Lodgings may not be a term familiar to many people, but for dozens of vulnerable young adults in East Sussex, it can be an important lifeline.
Supported Lodgings is a service provided by East Sussex County Council, which offers young people aged 16 to 25 who are homeless or living in care, the opportunity to learn the skills they need to move successfully on to independence.
The young person in question goes to live with a Supported Lodgings Provider, who offers them a room in their house and support with valuable everyday tasks like putting a wash on, cooking a meal and applying for jobs.
Nigel and Debbie Lambert, who live in Denton near Newhaven, are current providers and would like to see more people get involved.
“If you love young people, and you’ve got a passion for helping young people, you should apply,” says Debbie.
“It’s a challenge – a really rewarding challenge,” says Nigel. “But if we didn’t have fun with it, we wouldn’t be doing it.”
Making a difference
Helping with everyday tasks like college applications and understanding bus timetables are just some of the ways they support the young people living with them – giving them the tools they need to move on and live independently. And it’s the small things that can make a big difference.
“When you’ve helped somebody achieve something that they thought they were never going to achieve, and it can be something very small… it’s just magical. It makes everything seem so worthwhile,” says Debbie.
East Sussex County Council offer full training and a 24-hour advice line so you’re never on your own, and you’ll receive a generous allowance for each young person placed with you. They understand that you’ll have questions, and are on hand to help explain any aspects you’re unsure of.
Nigel agrees. “East Sussex County Council were really helpful in the whole process. The support is superb.”
Don’t be put off
Unfortunately, misconceptions can get in the way of people applying. For example, people often think they can’t be providers if they’re single, or that they can’t work full-time and offer supported lodgings. Neither of which is true.
The Lamberts are testament to the latter. “Although we both work full time, it doesn’t interfere with our life at all, it’s part of our life. And it’s a part we really, really enjoy.”
Both Nigel and Debbie are keen to encourage other people to join as providers. Nigel says: “Even if you’re just thinking about it – make a call, or just talk to someone. If it’s tempting you… have a go.”
You can find out more about Supported Lodgings, and becoming a provider with East Sussex County Council, by visiting www.eastsussex.gov.uk/lodgings or calling 01424 726155.