Teenage girl looking concerned

How we help care leavers in Belfast move safely to independent living

Our Belfast Care Leavers service provides practical, emotional, social support and skills training for young people in and leaving care aged 16-21.

We also help them develop the skills needed to make a happy and stress- free move into one of our self-contained flats in Belfast land Ballymena.

The service assigns a dedicated key worker to each care leaver once they enter into the supported living accommodation. They work together on a 1:1 basis completing weekly tasks which provide the opportunity for the young person to learn key life skills needed once they have left the care and support network of Barnardo’s. Having a designated project worker helps to establish a relationship of trust and enables staff to model caring and nurturing behaviours for young people, it also provides consistency of support.

The service also runs weekly group work sessions to help young people establish a support network with other care leavers. One popular session is our communal cooking group where meals are planned, made and shared between staff and young people. These sessions are a vital source of companionship and coming together for the care leavers, particularly for those that feel lonely or isolated, which is often reported by many of the young people our project workers come into contact with.

The service also provides outreach and aftercare to ensure young people receive support and guidance after moving into their own living space. This recognises that care leavers can often have a minimal support network and require consistent, positive, nurturing relationships with staff for on-going advice and guidance. 

I have moved all over the place and when I first got involved with Barnardo’s it gave me more of a  sense of home and now I know people here and feel I belong here.


Aged 19

Find out more about the experiences of care leavers and how Barnardo's supports them and works with them to campaign for improvements to the care system.