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Your accommodation as a care leaver

We'll do the best we can to make sure where you live is right for you. Your social worker will start talking to you about it when you are 16 and will write it in your pathway plan.

However, we can't promise that we can always provide exactly what you would like, there may be a few steps you will go through to get to your 'dream' home. This will usually be in shared accommodation until you are able to pay all your rent for your own place.

Before you get started have a read of what Sophie says about her journey in finding a new home.

Here are your options:

Staying put

If you are in a foster placement when you turn 18 then you can, if your foster carers agree, stay with them until you are 21. You will still be a care leaver after you turn 18 and will still get the same support from a PA including some financial support. You will be expected to pay rent or make some other financial contribution to your foster carers from your wages or benefits.

Staying close

If you are in residential care when you turn 18 then you cannot usually stay there but we can try and help you to stay close by and keep in contact with the residential workers who looked after you.

Semi independent accommodation

This is likely to be shared accommodation and there are staff around to support and guide you. The accommodation is fully furnished, you will need to pay rent and bills using your wages or benefits and follow the house rules.

Supported lodgings

This is living with a family, you will have your own room and support to guide you and the accommodation is fully furnished.

Supported housing

There are a range of options from individual flats with visiting support or on call support to shared houses with residential volunteers. There are also small and large hostel type accommodation with 24 hour staffing.

Student accommodation

If you are going to university you can move into halls or other student accommodation. The maintenance part of your student loan should cover your accommodation costs or you will receive funding from the Care Leavers' Service. Some universities will offer accommodation all year round, even in the holidays. Others may not. If this is the case, we will help you to find somewhere to live in the holidays.

Living independently

This will either be a property rented from a private landlord or accommodation through your local council housing department. Depending on what suits you best, you can usually find either your own space in a shared house or your own flat.

Sometimes groups of friends can rent a house together, which can cut costs down. Before you are able to live on your own you will need to be fully responsible for paying the rent, as well as any bills including council tax, water, gas, internet, electric and a TV license.

Some local authorities will exempt and not charge council tax to care leavers, ask your local area or PA if your area is exempt.

Going home (birth family)

If you'd like to move back in with your birth family, speak to your social worker or PA.

What about setting up my home?

As a care leaver you are entitled to a 'setting up home' allowance of up to £2,000. Your PA will help you think about what you need for your home.

We will have a 'setting up home allowance' for you which will help to buy essential items for your home. These things could include a washing machine, bed, carpets, cutlery or a TV. We will also consider things such as pictures and soft furnishings to make your home feel more like home, as long as you don't need this money for other things.

As a care leaver, you'll also get:

  • Setting up home allowance of up to £2,000 to furnish your accommodation.
  • A £2,000 higher education bursary if you go to university. This will be paid over the duration of your course in instalments.
  • Up to £1,200 each academic year from your college if you're aged 16 to 19.
  • Vouchers on your birthday and at Christmas

Sophie's story

"When it came to leaving care and living independently, I was very supported. By the age of 17 I was referred to a service called the Moving On Project.

The Moving On team helped me choose the borough that I felt most at home in and supported me for a year in a privately rented flat whilst waiting on the council list before moving in to complete independence. During my time at my first flat; I would be visited by a member of the team once or twice a week, during this time they would help teach me basic skills that I may not have known beforehand like how to bleed a radiator, budget, cook, plaster holes in walls and set up direct debits to make sure my bills were paid properly.

On moving day the Moving On team hired a moving van to help me. I was also allocated £250 to furnish my flat with, they had a list of how much they recommend is spent on each household item you may need but I did find this to be a bit of an old, outdated list. I explained this and they assured me as long as I kept in budget, it wasn't a major issue on how accurate I was to the list.

There would have been many basic things I would have forgot that my flat may need if I didn't have that list such as a shower curtain or mop and bucket and kettle. I had a lot of help from friends with second-hand items for my flat too meaning I could afford to have a comfortable place to have friends over in which I could be proud of.

After my experience with this team I finally felt ready to move on to the next apartment and the Moving On team helped support me for a month while I found my feet in this place."

(Sophie's story is provided by a real care leaver, their name has been changed to protect their identity)