Salford teenagers on the verge of going into children’s homes will get a totally new experience thanks to those who have been in care themselves.
Two care leavers and one who was on the edge of care have helped to design a new service so youngsters in the city will get the vital support they need.
Route29 officially launched on Wednesday 8 January when a new hub was opened in Eccles by the City Mayor of Salford Paul Dennett.
Now known as the Route29 hub, the building will house a team of specialists, including a psychologist, a speech and language therapist, educational psychologist and a police officer to help young people in foster care where the placement is about to break down, or those on the edge of care where parents can no longer cope.
Instead of going to a children’s home, sometimes in a different part of the country, the young person can now get instant access to the professional support they need. Where necessary, they can stay overnight on a short term basis, but usually they would stay at home and get help from the hub during the day, for as long as they need it.
Young people have chosen to have the service branded under a name, Route29, and had the interior of the hub designed to their specification with furniture they chose.
They helped to set the job roles and asked questions on the interview panels to recruit new workers for the council.
One of the young people who shaped the new service and wanted to stay anonymous said: “We have gone through the system and wanted to use our experience to make it better for young people. Rather than let somebody else choose for us, we have made the decisions. It’s completely different, we had to get it right and we were listened to.
“As a child in care you don’t always feel safe. You need the right staff, with the right skills, attitude and support from other professionals to work with each child and get the best experience for them.
“Everybody had an opinion on the new name, so in the end we did an online poll where young people got to vote from about ten options. We wanted to use the word ‘route’, because as a young person in care are you are on a journey from A to B. We added 29 as it is the number of the building which we designed. So it’s now Route29. It makes me proud to say it.”
Salford City Mayor Paul Dennett said: “This new way of working follows a system that was developed in North Yorkshire and has been very successful.
“We handed proposals over to young people who have been in care and they have shaped it using their own experiences. They were brutally honest, they told us the type of staff they wanted employed – and they were very vocal after the interviews about who would fit in with the service and who wouldn’t.
“The young people have done a fantastic job and we’d like to thank them for all their hard work and invaluable knowledge. I am also delighted that two of our care leavers applied for jobs at Route29 and start in post very soon.”
Councillor John Merry, Lead Member for Children’s and Young People’s Services added “We’d like to give a special thankyou to our contractors Sheila Bird and Quay Interiors. They have done an amazing job renovating the building to the young people’s specification. This has saved vital taxpayers’ money and we can’t thank them enough. They truly have the Spirit of Salford.”
Around 580 children and young people are in care in Salford.