Lucy is a project worker in Barnardo’s Gap Homes Project in Renfrewshire
Can you tell me a bit about your role?
I work mainly with young people who live in our Gap Homes, who are transitioning from a care setting to independent living. Initially it is a very high level of support but as they get more confident that eases off. The pandemic has had a big impact on mental health so we have been getting out for walks, lots of nature activities, support with cooking and cleaning, a lot of conflict resolution and anything else which can support their day to day lives. When they go on to independent living I carry on supporting them.
How would you describe the support you give to the young people in your service?
We do such a broad range of things, so in addition to the practical tasks I’ve mentioned we also do educational support and a lot of talking about potential work opportunities, cv writing, applications for college, really anything which can impact any 18-26 year old. It’s amazing to see the development in the young people, even over quite a short period of time.
Previously we’ve had families in the house too, so that included supporting the parents and the babies, being there in the evenings helping with bedtime routines and popping in each morning to help with the morning routine. We’re always adapting to meet the needs of the young people either reducing the support or building it up depending on what they need.
What would you say is the biggest challenge in your role?
The biggest challenge this year has been education. Our young people really struggled with distance learning, so it’s been challenging trying to help keep their interest in their courses and keeping things exciting.
Another challenge is that where we’re located we are quite close to the Children’s Houses where the young people have come from and it can take a while for them to adjust to the fact that they have now left and sometimes going back too often isn’t always the right thing for them. It is such a hard transition that they are doing, they are so excited at the start but the reality of it isn’t always what they thought, so there can be genuine upset about growing up and having to deal with lots of new things.
What is the best bit about your role?
There are so many good things! I think seeing the young people daily and seeing how far they have come with little things. I mention something to them one week and then a couple of weeks later they’ll tell you about it, as if you had never mentioned it so you know they’re listening and you have had a little bit of a role in that. Also when you get a young person who says they’re not interested in anything and you manage to find that thing that they are keen to do. I have had that a lot recently with going outdoors and into nature. They have absolutely loved getting out and exploring the local area.
If you could change one thing for Scotland’s young people and families, what would it be?
I think access to more groups that encompass free outdoor spaces and support alongside that. There is a lot of nature things that go on but I think we should do more to show young people how to engage with the outdoors because a lot of people don’t really know how to do it. I think that would be really amazing.