Plea for families to host homeless teens
10:00am Sunday 6th January 2013 in News
A Warminster mother and son who are involved in Wiltshire Council’s host family scheme say more people should volunteer to look after homeless teenagers.
The scheme sees volunteers take in homeless 16 and 17- year-olds until they can move back to their families or are found somewhere to live.
Julie Woodland initially wanted to be a foster carer but, after talking with project leader Liz Montague about the scheme, which was launched in 2009, she decided to volunteer.
Mrs Woodland, 61, said: “I have always been interested in helping troubled teenagers and I had some experience in my previous work with teens, so I didn’t hesitate.
“We have hosted about 12 teenagers since we started in March and it has been really good. We provide somewhere safe for them during a time of instability.
“Most of them are suffering when they come to us, but the scheme gives them some time out and breathing space to come to terms with their situation and talk, if they need to.
“I definitely would recommend more people get involved in the host family scheme, as it is a fantastic opportunity to make a difference. You don’t need to be constantly available, but you do need to be able to listen.”
Her son, Dan, 22, said that some of his previous experiences had allowed him to relate and empathise with many of the teenagers who have stayed in their home.
Mr Woodland, an engineer, said: “I was a troubled teenager, so I know how some of them are feeling. We help them to work through their issues and give them comfort.
“It is nice to see them leave as completely different people to how they were when they first came to us but, even though their time with us is often short, you can’t rush the process. You have to give them time.”
Host families provide accommodation and a hot meal for up to three weeks, although this can be extended if they are happy to do so.
The council provides support, including an allowance to cover expenses.
In 2011/12, 39 young people were given a safe place to stay. Many were eventually found alternative suitable accommodation or moved back home, or in with relatives.
Cllr Lionel Grundy, Wiltshire Council’s cabinet member for children’s services, said: “Host families are providing a very valuable service. We are so thankful to all the host families and we would like to hear from any other people who feel they can help some young people who really need it.”
To find out more, contact Liz Montague on 07919 045656 or via email@example.com