Welcome to the re-designing support for care leavers project

This section of the blog has been created to follow one of the projects being undertaken by the Innovation and Improvement Programme at IRISS, which is entitled ‘Re-designing Support for Care Leavers’.
Why run this project?
As a result of research that IRISS conducted on the state of innovation and improvement in Scottish social services sector, key barriers to innovation emerged. A lack of time, finance and political interests were the three main barriers that were reported by the sector – maintaining the status quo rather than focusing on the needs of service users.
This project is exploring how co-productive* methods can be used in the social services sector to use resources differently and consider how this process may effect the status quo by involving service users in the re-design of existing services.
What is co-production?
* Co-production is a word that is used widely and can be interpreted in many different ways. In this project it refers to a way of working whereby service providers and users work together to create a service that works for them. The approach is value-driven and built on the principle that those who are affected by a service are best placed to help design it.

Focus of the project
This re-design project is focusing upon the leaving care transition for young people in Scotland. It is well documented that young people leaving care face difficult and accelerated challenges in comparison to their peers. At a recent young people’s conference, hosted by the Debate Project, care leavers from across Scotland came together to share their views and opinions on leaving care. At this event, young people said that the thing they needed most, and didn’t receive when leaving care, was emotional support. Young people said that when they left care they felt isolated, depressed and lonely (Life After Care, 2009).

A young person from the Debate Project commented on her feelings about leaving care:

‘You feel ashamed and you feel isolated and you’ve got no one to talk to about it. You keep it all to yourself. I didn’t get any support, mental support or emotional support. Growing up l was always anxious or sad. When l left care I had a hard time settling down emotionally and struggled to set up my life. I feel like I was let down, I didn’t have regular contact or an allocated worker.’
People that are involved
So in Partnership with the Scottish Throughcare and Aftercare Forum, The Debate Project, Argyll and Bute Council, practitioners, care leavers and service designers from Snook, we are working using co-productive methods to explore and develop ideas that respond to the kind of emotional and social support a young person is looking for as they leave care. We will test these ideas in practice and evaluate both the process people involved work through, and the application of each of the ideas.
Get involved!
The project will run from the 7th July 2011 until October and will be showcased at the IRISS Forum on December 6th as well as online. We are really keen to make sure the learning and ideas from this project can be shared across social services and beyond, so please read and comment on the blog and share it will people who may be interested.