I was pleased to be involved recently with Look Ahead’s response to the Government’s consultation on changes to the regulation of Semi-Independent Living (SIL) services for young people.
My role at Look Ahead involves assessing referrals for our 61 SIL placements across London. We receive hundreds of referrals each month to accommodate young people between 16-25 in our SIL services, many of whom are unaccompanied asylum seekers or have experienced intense trauma in their lives.
Many of us rely on our parents well into our 30s (and beyond) for help and support. I believe that our role in these SIL services is to provide the best support we can to guide and protect the young people we work with. Yet in my role I hear all too often of placements that, instead of protecting the young people they serve, put them at greater risk of exploitation. This is why I welcome a stronger regulatory framework for these services.
I believe that our role in these SIL services is to provide the best support we can to guide and protect the young people we work with. I hear all too often of placements that put them at greater risk of exploitation. This is why I welcome a stronger regulatory framework for these services.
There are three things I’d like to see in the regulation model that is finally adopted:
- A degree of flexibility – Every young person we work with is different and therefore requires a personalised response to their support needs. Any new framework should encourage flexibility within the same regulatory regime to enable support hours to flex in line with a young person’s changing needs – either increasing or decreasing – without the young person needing to move placement.
- A holistic & innovative approach – We welcome a regulation framework that encourages a holistic approach to meet the young person’s needs. For example a greater focus on providing therapy for the ever increasing number of young people with mental health needs; targeted/specific support with education, employment and training; meaningful independence programmes giving young people a solid foundation for their future. If we don’t invest in these types of additional or specialist support offers we are setting young people up to fail which, in the long-term, costs the public purse even more.
- Keep young people safe – When you are supporting someone often as young as 16-18 it is crucial that 24/7 Services should be required to have waking night staff as a safety measure. Not only does this reduce/prevent anti-social behaviour, grooming and unauthorised visitors; it enables young people to access support at any time of the day or night. We know that the night is when the young people could be more vulnerable and may often feel anxious and need our help.
We recognise SIL placements aren’t right for all young people and therefore support a regulation framework that ensures thorough assessment and risk planning is integral to ensure each young person is offered the right placement that fits their needs.
Look Ahead supports a model of ‘provider regulation’. We believe this could be rolled out efficiently and quickly enabling good providers to continue to provide high standards of support to young people and ensuring young people are protected from unscrupulous providers. We welcome this change in regulation that would better support people like Abdul and Gemma to stay safe and feel at home.