On Wednesday 8th March we gathered senior leaders, care experienced young people and practitioners from across the country to hear how we can adopt a trauma informed approach to housing policy and practice with care leavers. We're delighted to share the key elements of the day including presentations, photos and video content.

Welcome from Staf CEO, Jo Derrick and co-presenter Shaun Docherty

Jo welcomed our many delegates to The Studio on a bright, sunny day. She spoke of the importance of coming together to hear what's working and what we can all do and pledge to to ensure we adopt a trauma informed approach to housing policy and practice. Shaun then introduced Fraser McKinlay, CEO of The Promise Scotland. 

Download Jo's presentation

Fraser McKinlay, CEO The Promise Scotland 

We were delighted Fraser who, 6 months into the job, shared his reflections and plans for the future of The Promise Scotland. He acknowledged that some progress had been made, but that more needed to be done and that The Promise Scotland team were not there to deliver the pledges but to help convene and support others to do so. He also identified that some in the sector while committed to its delivery were "struggling with the how" and that events such as the Summit were key to helping address this quandary. The Promise want to show "this is what we think good looks like and to share with others".

Fraser stated the one thing that comes through is that "relationships, relationships, relationships" are keep to its delivery but he also highlighted that poverty has become a much more significant factor and barrier and should have been a bigger part of the original Promise story.

"The financial environment is as difficult as I have known it'. "Homelessness is expensive. You have to pay more to pick up the pieces. investing in voice equally if done well is money well spent"

He discussed ways that we can 'follow the money' to bring about change and the use of alternative sources of funding to help support organisations to Keep The Promise. 

In regards to housing he highlighted the promise for there to be no cliff edges and that housing pathways will have a range of housing options and homelessness will be eradicated. He expressed concern that the preventative pathway for care experienced young people has been paused by the Scottish Government due to capacity and pressure. 

In response to a question from the audience on the issues of staff retention he stated that the solution was partly to do things differently, using the existing resources. 

His finished with a challenge to the delegates "before we think about other systems, what do I need to change, what can I do differently before asking that of others"

Download Fraser's presentation

Shona Robison, Cabinet Secretary for Social Justice, Housing and Local Government 

We were thrilled that Ms Robison took time out of her busy schedule to speak to our Summit and share the Scottish Government's position on housing for care leavers. 

"If we can get this right for care leavers we can get this right for everyone"

Ms Robison stated that everyone should have access to a warm and safe home and that must include care leavers. She spoke of the Care Leavers pathway which existed to protect care leavers. She highlighted that homeless "is more than just a housing issue" and that a multi agency approach was needed which crucially ensured choice and control over how they lived independently. 

"You can't be what you can't see"

She spoke of Government's Promise Implementation Plan which had an emphasis on hearing the voices and opinions for those with lived experience and they needed to see the opportunities available to them. 

Ms Robison took time to answer questions from delegates with an assurance that she would follow up with each individual. 

Sean Robertson from The Care Leavers National Movement and Mark Warr & Sue Hammersley from The National House Project 

"I'm living in a home, not a house... I completely own who I am and where I am going. I can crack on with being me".

Sean began this session by sharing his experience of the Local House Project in Fife and how it had changed his life. 

Mark then went on to discuss how the National House Project came to be and how it operates. It works alongside young people, based on what they and other stakeholders such as academics and psychologists are saying.

Sue explained they couldn't operate without the input of the young people, they had to come up with the plan. She spoke that the NHP model provided the young people with a sense of belonging, they felt valued and supported with a very much 'you can do this' attitude. 

She spoke of the importance of involving the housing sector from the very beginning and working collaboratively and relationally. 

Having the base meant the young people always felt there was somewhere they could return to if there 'was a bit of a wobble' and that the feedback from those in the project was that the relationships the young people had with the staff was the most valuable outcome, the fact they had a home as well was an additional bonus.

They ended by sharing the Cinderella story, created as part of our evaluation of East Dunbartonshire's Local House Project evaluation.

Download the Care Leavers National Forum and The National House Project presentation

Gary Neil, Rock Trust 

Gary kicked off our afternoon sessions with a presentation on the work of Rock Trust with a specific look at the My Place project in collaboration with East Lothian Council which was one of 11 Life Changes Trust funded Home and Belonging projects which were evaluated by Staf and Children in Scotland.

The My Place project enlisted volunteer students to live with care experienced young people and become default mentors. Gary shared the successes and challenges of this innovative model including the fact that young people could stay as long as they wanted, it took a strengths based approach with elastic tolerance. Housing officers were trauma informed and involved from the offset. The challenges such as recruiting and matching were also highlighted but it was identified as a potential option for young people who may not want to move from a care setting to being on their own. 

Download Gary's presentation

Aimee Thorpe, Chris Ross and David Mackay (and special guest baby Noah) from Children in Scotland

Aimee, David and Ross reflected on the Children in Scotland Home and Belonging evaluation carried out in conjunction with Staf. They shared the process involved and challenges faced when Covid struck meaning in person plans were shelved. They spoke about having 'lived experience right at the heart' on the project with care experienced workers such as Aimee brought in to support the evaluation. 

The key findings fell under three headings 

Housing Quality - appropriate and well maintained housing is essential 
Relationships - between young people and workforce but also between sectors is vital 
Power and Participation - ceding power and involving young people has a huge impact 

It’s just so good to see the ‘higher ups’ actually getting involved, getting their feet in and just viewing what care experienced people have to go through and actually taking  an interest and listening to our stories and then actually helping us to change.”

(Young Person consulted as part of Home and Belonging evaluation)

The delegates were also treated to the world premier of the Home and Belonging animation 

Aimee shared some powerful closing words...

"When you're helping young people into their own houses, remember to treat them as an individual, on a case by case basis, no blanket rules for everyone. It's important to meet them in person. When it's a name on a sheet of paper it's not very personal, you don't really remember them. Treat them as an individual with a positive future and good outcomes"

Download the Children in Scotland presentation

At the panel session, Chris, Aimee, David and Gary were joined by Katrina from Staf and Andy from Rock Trust to take questions from the audience. 

Staf Chair SallyAnn Kelly commented that we need to avoid a "one size fits all" approach where some will benefit from having their own key for their front door while others may want or need a more communal style of living. She said "We need to be needs led by the young people" 

Roundtable discussion

The final session of the day saw our delegates and speakers come together to discuss the recommendations of the Home and Belonging initiative alongside the key themes from the National House Project. The groups were asked to identify the most urgent and important recommendations under the national, local and practitioner levels, share what they would like Staf to take forward and complete their pledge cards. 

Check out this brilliant snapshot of the day from the Floating Designer 

Here's a snapshot of the Day - Staf Summit in 60 seconds!

Thank you to our speakers, delegates and staff for joining our Summit. If you would like to be part of the short life working group on housing please email Staf CEO Jo Derrick at [email protected]