Ric Waters aka A Boy Called Ric joined the Ambassadors to share his music, lyrics, and inspirational stories. Image courtesy of DFF.

Drive Ambassadors are committed to making a difference to the lives of future young people leaving care. Over the past year, they have given their time, skill, and effort to support young care leavers on their journey into independence, whilst speaking up to raise awareness and bring about policy change.

 

Advocating for fair and just housing

Affordable rent, social landlords, the housing crisis and other catch phrases have been dominating public debate. Recent studies have found around one in four 20 something Britons still lives with their parents and that young people believe that owning your own home is a thing of the past.

For care leavers, however, the situation is even more complicated. Many of them do not have a family home to go back to, no financial cushion to get through tough times, no shoulder to lean on. Recent changes to social housing policy hinders care leavers to move into independence, whilst increasing the risk of debt, long-term unemployment and homelessness.

Upon hearing of the precarious housing situations care leavers find themselves, Forward Thinking helped the Drive Ambassadors set up an advocacy committee to raise public awareness and promote policy change. Facilitated and led by Forward Thinking’s UK Programme Manager, Jordan Morgan, focus groups and one on one consultations with care leavers and housing managers were conducted, collecting valuable data and information on how the lack of long-term affordable, secure tenancy, and a change to short-term insecure tenancy, is creating barriers for one of society’s most socio-economically disadvantaged groups. After several meetings with policy makers, MPs and Lords, including the Children’s Commissioner for England, Anne Longfield OBE, and the Minister for Vulnerable Children and Families, Edward Timpson, the Ambassador’s presented their case in the House of Lords in December 2016 to Lord Francis Listowel. This prompted Lord Listowel to mention what he had learned from his encounter with the young people during the debate that followed in the House of Lords. Issues were further taken forward within the Homelessness Reduction Bill debates by Lord Listowel.

Inspired and motivated by this first success, Ambassadors and the Drive Forward team joined forces to start an insightful research project to highlight the real-life effects of social housing reforms including ‘affordable rent’ and ‘fixed term tenancy’ on London’s care leavers. The preliminary findings can be found within Drive Forward’s policy brief.