In partnership with two fantastic organisations, Social Finance and Home for Good, we’ve also been exploring how to draw more community members into the support of unaccompanied young people arriving in the UK.
Pre-pandemic, Home for Good launched the Families of Refuge project, working to open up new supported-lodging placements for resettled young people. In the meantime, Social Finance scoped and designed a model of community-led supported-lodging hubs for welcoming unaccompanied minors.
According to this model, each hub would involve volunteers setting up and running a local supported-lodging scheme for young people. As part of this, they would recruit local carers and engage the community to provide wraparound support to both young people and carers.
In each case, the Local Authority would act as the corporate parent to unaccompanied minors, and each hub would be supported by a central organisation, like Reset, providing training and support.
We think there’s real potential here but there are also lots of questions still to answer: do community groups have appetite for the level of risk and responsibility involved? Would Local Authorities feel comfortable contracting with a community-led hub? What would the financial flow look like and could it be made efficient?
Sadly, the pandemic put the brakes on this work for a couple of reasons. First, the pause in resettlement flights means that Families of Refuge is not currently able to recruit supported-lodging hosts. Second, Local Authorities are at such stretch that it’s not the right time for Social Finance to test and further develop their model. As a result, we made the difficult decision to bring the project to a close in October this year. We’d like to acknowledge here the generosity of US philanthropists Ed Shapiro and Barrie Landry who made this work possible.
In spite of this set back, the pandemic certainly hasn’t dampened our commitment to exploring ways to extend community-led welcome to more newcomers. We’re just at the start of our journey of exploring what is possible and we would welcome your reflections, connections and ideas.