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Working with young people to support them ‘to get a life not a service’- one year on

The Derby team are heading into the second year of their ‘Innovation Programme’ project working with young people linked to the care system and have put together some reflections about their learning to date.

The team have used the Local Area Coordination approach in the project and some things they have learnt so far include:

  • It works! Providing young people with opportunities to connect with someone who is based in their local area, who listens, treats them with respect and reliably does what they say can reduces dependence on formal services, especially if that person is mindful of their own power and agency in the relationship.
  • The language we use really matters. For example, the people we’ve come into contact with through this specific piece of work are really hurt when being described or even defined as a “care leaver”.
  • Services cannot fill the space left by the loss of human relationships, and as a result our response to young people needs to reflect the things we can do and acknowledge the things we can’t. An approach that’s principally based around assessments and outcomes just doesn’t work.
  • As a system, we need to think about and redefine “the deal”. The young people we’ve met through this programme often have an expectation that the worker is going to “fix things” or resolve issues for people, often through accessing money or resources. This fosters dependence and kills personal resilience and aspiration.
  • There is a role for Local Area Coordination working across the system – supporting people to articulate and work towards their own vision for a good life; keeping families connected; knitting communities together whilst preventing, reducing and delaying the need for more formal costly services
  • It’s all about relationships. Whether it is with the citizens we come into contact with or colleagues working in services. Taking time to build quality relationships based on mutual understanding and trust is key and should not be overlooked or underestimated.