Darlington donations ensure care leavers have a Merry Christmas
A call out to Darlington residents on Facebook asking for donations of Christmas decorations and toiletries for young people leaving care received an overwhelming response, including more than 30 trees, within just a few hours.
Darlington Borough Council’s children’s services team are responsible for social care to children and young people from Darlington including more than 200 looked after children in foster care, those in residential children’s homes as well as a small number of supporting lodgings arrangements.
As well as ensuring stable homes for looked after children, the team at Darlington Borough Council’s Leaving Care Service also provide support to over 140 young people aged 15 ½ - 25 years old as part of their transition to adulthood and journey out of the care of the council.
The need was highlighted via the council’s Facebook page by Faye Marsh, Personal Advisor, Darlington Borough Council’s Children’s Services who, earlier this month, was awarded the title of ‘PA of the Year’ by the National Leaving Care Benchmarking Forum, a network of over 110 local authorities promoting the development of quality leaving care services and shared learning on a national scale.
Within hours of putting out a request on social media, the team had received offers of more than 30 trees as well as decorations and toiletries with Vinyard Church providing a toiletries pack for each care leaver, exceeding expectations and more than meeting the required needs.
Councillor Jon Clarke, Darlington Borough Council’s cabinet member for children and young people said:
“Moving out of care to live on your own or with friends is a big step for a young person. Even more so at Christmas time. The kindness and swift generosity of the people of Darlington, in support of our young people has been wonderful.
“Just because you are leaving care, or have already left care, the council’s children’s services team do not stop caring about you. We want to make sure that our care leavers feel safe and supported and know where and who to go to for advice and help.
“Ideally, we would like to be in a position to provide more over 16s leaving care with the opportunity of a place in supported lodgings, where accommodation is provided in a home environment. For that to be possible we urgently need more people to come forward to work with us as Supported Lodgings Carers.”
Darlington's Supported Lodgings scheme is for young people aged 16-21 years old who have been Looked After by Darlington Children’s Social Care. People interested in becoming Supported Lodgings Carers can visit www.darlington.gov.uk/supportedlodgings for more information on the process and payments.