Thanks to the latest round of Cashback for Communities funding, over the next three years we will be working alongside Scotland’s five secure units to support young people and their families.
Family breakdown is by far the most immediate trigger for youth homelessness in Scotland, with poverty playing a key underlying role. Disproportionately, those with experience of homelessness, including a high percentage of Scotland’s prison population, will have had prior experience of the care system.
At any one time in Scotland, up to 84 young people can be in secure accommodation. The aim of such secure care units is ‘to provide intensive support and safe boundaries to help these highly vulnerable children re-engage and move forward positively in their communities’.
Until now, there has been no national approach to offering the same level of support to young people and their families upon entering and leaving care across all five units in Scotland. Without support, the issues affecting families and young people – whether the impact of earlier ACEs (adverse childhood experiences), low income and related stresses – can be left unchecked. Communication can break down, and relationships can fracture, with devastating consequences for the young person, their families and the wider community.
Our new ‘Keeping Families Together’ project, launched in 2020, supports young people aged 12+ in secure accommodation and their families at the point of admission, and those who are in the process of returning home. Building on our award-winning ‘Amber’ model of mediation and support, we are offering 1-to-1 support from skilled mediators, practical support for each family member, and conflict resolution workshops. Through this we will help build positive relationships, promote better communication, and reduce the potential for future conflict and its further consequences.
Strong, positive relationships are essential to a person’s health and wellbeing, and that could not be truer for young people. At what can only be an enormously stressful and difficult period in a young person’s life, it is only right that both the young person and the rest of the family receive the support they need to maintain and rebuild those relationships, and for the young person, where possible, to return home to a positive environment.