At Swan we support younger people aged 16-25 through our Foyer services which provide accommodation and support to achieve their transition to independence. Young people coming into our schemes are people who have experienced significant challenges in their young lives such as experiencing a family breakdown, leaving the care system, being at risk of or even being homeless.
Our Foyers ensure young people who can’t live at home get the same investment as other young people. Our aim is to ensure every young person can thrive, not just cope or survive. Foyers provide accommodation, personal development and employability support in a nurturing and safe environment.
By providing support to make good life choices, our young people reduce the potential risks of being involved with the police and criminal justice system, substance use and are better prepared to manage mental health issues.
Our support is delivered in line with our 5 Key themes:
Skills for life and employment
Health and Wellbeing
We are passionate about changing lives and offer a comprehensive programme of personal and community development activities factoring in personal goals and development needs for our young people to create healthier, more confident and happier lives and be ready to move forward on their journey.
Our approach to working with our young people is fundamentally about empowering our people to build the capacity and confidence needed to create happy and positive lives. We provide a personalised service that is holistic in its approach and focuses on people’s strengths.
In exchange for a personalised service, young people entering a Foyer are expected to actively engage in their own development and make a positive contribution to their local community. This “deal” is a defining characteristic of the Foyer approach.
The elements of the exchange depend very much on the individual, what their personal situation is, the barriers they may face and their aspirations for the future. It often means developing education and vocational training, increasing skills for independence and encouraging greater resilience to overcome barriers. It can also mean rebuilding family relationships, overcoming mental health issues or developing stronger self-confidence and self-belief.
In placing young people at the heart of a flexible ‘deal’, which in the case of Foyers is expressed through a formal contract, it affords them the tools they need to take responsibility for their future and helps them to secure lasting personal and social change.
Our key theme of Health and Wellbeing drives forward the understanding that a healthy and flourishing life needs to be actively worked on and the benefits to be realised to create a cycle of positive change. We work with our young people to explore their self-awareness and understanding of what is required to live a healthy lifestyle and how they can best achieve this.
In the past 12 months we have completed a number of activities to support improved health and wellbeing, these have included: Intergenerational gardening where our young people supported our older residents with creating a gardening space and planted vegetables, cooking nights with residents coming together to learn how to prepare and cook cheap and nutritious meals. Art sessions have also taken place enabling residents to complete mindful activities and take advantage of the opportunities to explore their creative side.
Identifying The Need For The Residential Event
At Swan we place a high value on meeting the needs of our residents. We asked our residents what activities they would like to see as part of improving their health and wellbeing. Residents opted for spending time in the outdoors, possibly in a natural environment and taking part in some physical activities.
Swan arranged a residential trip at an outdoor adventure centre where residents and staff spent three days together. In addition to our Foyer residents, our young people from our young parents foyer and our supported housing schemes for people with a learning disability were invited to join the residential trip.
The residential event compromised of staying in camping facilities in the forest and completing a range of activities during the day. Activities included: High Walk, Axe Throwing, Rafting, Climbing Wall, Water Roller, Abseiling, Jacob’s Ladder, Archery and Kayaking.
During the evening, the group came together around a campfire and participated in social activities and reflected on the day.
By applying a co-production approach, we were able to ensure maximum engagement and benefit for and from our young people.
The three-day event was created with a focus on the following outcomes:
Improved physical health and fitness
Increased sense of wellbeing
Increased confidence and self esteem
Building good relationships with others
Allowing for a sense of space and reflection
Our event was delivered during mental health awareness week. We planned a wide range of experiences and included opportunities to reduce isolation, improve mental health, improve physical health and create an awareness of well-being and positive thinking.
Measuring Our Impact – What Our Residents Said
Swan actively seeks the views of others on the service we provide. As part of this impact statement we have gained feedback from the participants through 1:1’s and group sessions. We asked a number of questions at the beginning and at the end of the three-day event and met with the participants a few weeks after the event to reflect on how they felt and what we could do to improve future events.
Day 1 and Day 3 Assessments
We asked our residents to measure their feelings on how they felt before and after the residential trip. We provided booklets with a number of questions focusing on their feelings at the beginning of day 1 and at the end of day 3 and asked them to score their feelings on a scale of 1-10. We then measured the change in score between the two periods.
The key areas of improvement were:
- Ability to rely on other people
- Building trust in others
- Being out of their comfort zone
As part of the day 1 and day 3 assessments, we looked at the outcomes achieved from the various activities that were experienced. A lot of fun was had, with new friendships being developed and trust built with other people. Teamwork and socialising with others were highlights for a number of the residents.
The activities were wide ranging and included experiences to reduce isolation, improve mental health, improve physical health and an awareness of what being healthy feels like.
Our Feedback Survey
We asked the participants a number of questions to gain feedback on how they felt the event was organised, what could be done to improve future events and whether they would like to either participate in the organisation or delivery of future residential activities. 10 out of the 13 attendees responded.
8 people said the event was “excellent”, 1 reported “very good” and 1 person reported the activity as “good”. All participants said that the event exceeded their expectations.
All participants said they would recommend it to other people. 9 out of the 10 people who responded to the feedback said they would like to be involved in the planning the next event and 7 people said they would like to be involved in delivering the activities for future events.