Our heart for teenagers

Home for Good is passionate about finding a home for every child, at every age.

Teenagers are the fastest-growing and largest cohort of children in the care system. Almost two thirds of children in care in England are over the age of 10, with a quarter aged 16 or over. They must be prioritised to ensure they have the homes they need. Home for Good is passionate about finding a home for every child, at every age, as Tarn explains. (4 minute read)

Home for Good’s mission to find a home for every child who needs one is our unswerving task at hand and we are deeply committed to its fulfilment. In all my listening of the past six months, something clear has been heard: teenagers need our collective help, support and love.

Local authorities are desperately seeking the right homes for older vulnerable children. At present, all too often the only options for teenagers are unregulated placements in unsuitable accommodation such as B&B’s, caravan parks or ‘Houses of Multiple Occupancy’. The very challenges teenagers face at this critical age – complex relationships, peer pressure, feelings of fear, inadequacy and isolation – are compounded by a lack of support, the absence of a unit to belong to, and the gnawingly empty space where sage, kind words should be. I was this teenager. Totally lost. My nuclear family life imploded when I was just 15, largely through my own doing and poor choices but compounded by years of feeling misunderstood by my own biological family. This resulted in me sofa-surfing, attempting short term tenancies that I failed abysmally at maintaining, and an ever growing pervading sense of failure, with more poor choices as a result. My story isn’t uncommon. I ended up on the edge of the sex industry, unsure of my value, unable to see my worth and in a never ending cycle of destructive relationships, debt and doubt. I did make my way out, slowly and eventually, but the damage felt marked.

"It was an adventure, but the challenges were not insignificant in bringing young people into our home who exhibited all the obvious and understandable behaviours of scared and traumatised children."

I went on to be a Supported Lodgings host in my thirties, with some dear friends. It was an adventure, but the challenges were not insignificant in bringing young people into our home who exhibited all the obvious and understandable behaviours of scared and traumatised children. But it was arguably one of the most profound, rewarding seasons of my life. It stretched us all. We laughed, we sobbed, we celebrated the wins when a young person ‘settled’ and came alive in themselves. But in equal measure we grieved for those young people we just couldn’t ‘reach’. For some, the consistency of house rules and curfews was a step too far for them and they re-entered the Tardis of the unforgiving big world out there.

I believe we have an opportunity to reimagine what caring for teenagers could look like. Home for Good is exploring how we can enable teenagers to thrive through one radically committed household embracing them and providing a place at their table and a room to call their own. Supported Lodgings could be the answer here, where the Church at large could respond, hand in hand and parallel with fostering and adoption. The scripture we hold up as a motivating source is Psalm 68:6, which the Amplified Bible translates as ‘God places the solitary in families and gives the desolate a home in which to dwell’. What a promise. Let’s be God’s hands and feet together, bringing this into reality for the thousands of young people who have fallen through the cracks, who feel beyond reach and doubt they will belong anywhere ever again.

This article was first published in the Home for Good magazine: Summer 2021. To stay up-to-date with Home for Good's news and how you can give, pray and get involved to help vulnerable children and young people, join our mailing list here.

Author:
Tarn Bright for Home for Good


Date published:
June 2021


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