Aftercare is the continuation of work in partnership with the care experienced community and other stakeholders with a particular focus on living independently and developing a peer network of support, friendships and connectedness together with help in finding employment, education and or training.
We know aftercare is extremely important and significantly increases the life chances of care experienced people in long term. Experience has informed us that After-care must begin when a care leaver begins their journey from being looked after to independence within both local authority care and foster care placements.
We understand the importance of co-creating a Rees After-Care exit plan with care leavers in enough time to be realistic about their expectations, goals and aspirations. It also encourages care leavers to have an active part in their pathway plan which is all part of the local authority leaving care corporate parenting responsibility.
A Rees After-Care exit plan includes budgetary information for example; paying bills, saving, money for leisure activities/hobbies, clothes, transport to work/college. Together with practical activities in preparation for move on include home making skills, cooking, socialising and an introduction to our care experienced peer networks.
After-care support in the first year after leaving care is particularly critical. Key working will continue during this time taking into account the increased vulnerability of care leavers, which helps the readjustment to independent living and how to engage in their own community.
We provide a series of seminars and practical activities which are co-facilitated by our care experienced volunteer mentors who are living proof that life after care can be adventurous and exciting.
We have designed a ‘portfolio’ of scenarios that could lead to crisis situations and solutions to avoid these. Some of these include:
•Emergency in your home e.g. what to do if there is a gas leak, electricity is off, water leak
•Health and well-being and mental health well-being
•Health & Hygiene in the Kitchen
•Basic first Aid
•Importance of talking particularly if you are struggling
•Routines and Activities/hobbies
•Responsibility as a volunteer and or ambassador of the Rees Foundation care experienced community
•General Support and guidance in a range of topics including;
Looking for employment, education and training
•Looking for accommodation
•Financial capability and budgeting
•Importance of positive relationships - including diversity and difference.
•Relationships and friendships
•LGBT+ support groups
•Being a parent
•Signposting to specialist services
•Socialising and hobbies
•Boundaries and self-discipline
•Cross addiction and alcohol awareness
•Fears for the future
•Importance of talking
•Health, hygiene and mental well-being
After-care activities help to create connections, friendships and a sense of belonging. Care leavers are empowered to play an active role by organising and arranging peer group meetings, activities together with help with fundraising for the Rees Foundation Charity.
The social capital care leavers/care experienced people gain within our peer networks reflect social norms i.e. being valued and accepted by neighbours, work colleagues and the environment where they live. Taking and making decisions is so important for individuals when they are living independently, to understand and make the right choices to keep safe, healthy and happy.
Through are many projects we aim to support as many care experienced people as our capacity reaches. We have a fantastic care experienced community developing across the UK.
We launched the Midlands care experienced peer network in November 2018 more Peer Networks are being organised in partnership with the leaving care teams in Warwickshire, Worcestershire, Sandwell Childrens Trust, Hereford and a LGBT Peer Network in London.
Care experienced peer networks provide end-to-end support to other care leavers/care experienced. Engaging the wider care experienced community to increase social connectedness and belonging and reduce levels of stigma that can perpetuate cycles of disadvantage and hopelessness. Peer Networks often have a theme. Recent examples include; Telling your Story and Accessing your records.
We will continue to roll out our model increasing our care experienced community across the UK.
For more information please email Contactus@reesfoundation.org