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Dozens of vulnerable young people supported to build a brighter future

Norfolk County Council, 24 June 2022 00:00

A service to support some of Norfolk's most vulnerable young people has helped reunite families and prevented 100 children coming into care in its first year.

New Roads has supported teenagers like Kayleigh, Marie and Bertie to rebuild their lives, have safe contact with their families, and start to build a brighter future.

Kayleigh, 17, had been in care for a number of years but her foster placements had repeatedly broken down because she found it difficult to manage her emotions and behaviour. She had few friends and almost no contact with her family. After the council's New Roads service offered her a short-term place to live in one of its two hubs, she embraced the support on offer and built positive relationships with staff and other children. With help from her key worker, she went to her school prom, is attending college and has a part-time job. She is now enjoying a new and more stable life with a foster family.

Marie, 14, came into care because her mother was not able to look after her and her father had passed away. Her foster placements had broken down after she consistently ran away and was smoking cannabis. She was offered a short-term place to live in a hub and given access to a range of help including speech and language therapy. She got on so well that Becky, a member of staff at the hub offered Marie a foster place with her family. She is now settled and attending school.

Marie said: "When they told me that Becky and her family were going to be fostering me, that was one of the best days of my life, because all I have ever wanted was a proper family and now I have got that.

"It's my dream has come true. I am so happy where I am living now, and I am so grateful.

"I will never forget what the hub has done for me, so thank you to all of the staff members at the hub for making my dream come true."

Bertie*, 14, and his siblings had experienced instability and chronic neglect in their childhood because of parental alcohol misuse and poor mental health. As a result, Bertie struggled to control his strong emotions and had physically aggressive outbursts which resulted in his foster placement breaking down and police involvement. He came to live in the hub for a short time and worked with a life coach and a speech and language therapist as well as building up positive relationships with staff. He is now living back with his birth mum for the first time in 10 years.

The council's New Roads service has been running for a year. Since its launch, it has supported 170 young people aged between 12 and 17. It has:

  • prevented 100 young people from coming into care, by enabling them to stay living with their families
  • paved the way for 12 young people, who were previously in care, to go home to their families
  • achieved a six per cent reduction in the number of 12 to 17 year-olds in care in Norfolk
  • achieved a 72% decrease in arrests of young people supported for six months or more who were at risk of criminalisation

Cllr Daniel Elmer, deputy cabinet member for Children's Services, said: "It's extremely positive that our New Roads service is so clearly helping to improve the lives of Norfolk's young people.

"The service is helping more children to live safely at home, reducing criminalisation in some of most vulnerable young people and ultimately supporting them to achieve their potential and lead fulfilling adult lives.

"It shows how thinking differently about how we engage and work with young people and their families to build lasting relationships is really having an impact."

The service ensures young people get the help and support that they need through an integrated team that sticks with them. Based out of two hubs in Dereham and Norwich, it supports:

  • young people who need to live in the hub for a short time
  • young people still living at home but likely to need to come into care in the near future
  • young people in care in foster placements.

New Roads offers each young person a dedicated key worker and gives them access to specialist support at the hub which includes: life coaches (clinical psychologists), communication support workers (speech and language therapists), and police liaison officers. They receive support focused on their specific needs, which includes: support with rebuilding relationships, building resilience and self-esteem, managing life stage transitions, mental and physical health and education and training. The aim is to give young people stability, reduce risk-taking behaviour and help to avoid the need for long-term residential care, as well as longer term costs to themselves, the wider system and communities.

The council launched New Roads after successfully obtaining £5 million of funding from the Department for Education Strengthening Families Protecting Children (SFPC) Programme. The model is based on the successful No Wrong Door model, developed by North Yorkshire County Council.

Last modified: 14 May 2024 12:43