Young adult carers housing project draws to a close
After piloting supportive housing for young adult carers for six years, the Move On Up project housing young adult carers has reached its scheduled ending. The project leaves behind a wealth of learnings and recommendations to help address the housing needs of this vulnerable and overlooked cohort.
Between 2017-2023, Move on Up provided shared housing and tailored support to young adult carers aged 18-25 in partnership with Quaker Social Action (QSA) and Commonweal Housing.
Many of the young adult carers came to the project from homelessness after the toll of caring for a parent from an early age placed a growing strain on their family relationships. Young people also joined after recognising their current situation was impacting their mental health, independence and life opportunities, including employment and education.
Over the project’s pilot period, it received 141 referrals, and 32 young adult carers were given housing and support across four properties in East London. Each young person was equipped with their own space away from the family home, and provided tailored and emphatic support to make informed decisions about their future and progress toward their goals.
During their time at Move On Up, around two-thirds of participants reported a more positive situation compared to when they initially joined. Positive outcomes included improvements in mental health and the ability to excel in education or access employment. For Move On Up resident Ciaran (not his real name), a respite from his caring responsibilities and ten months of support from a Move On Up support worker enabled him to study at college and he now plans to go to University.
Similarly, Dylan, who recently shared his experience at Move On Up in the Big Issue newspaper, described feeling ‘free at Move on Up’ as it gave him the ‘freedom’ to think about himself. Dylan was aged 15 when he started caring for his younger sister and his mother after she struggled with mental health issues. He spent five years at the project, which played a role in him securing a job as the senior technical manager at the same company he was an apprentice.
At the time Move On Up was launched, it was the only project of its kind that provided housing and tailored support targeted at young adult carers. Six years on this remains the case, as there continues to be a significant lack of specific housing provision for this overlooked group.
Additionally, the challenges facing young adult carers have been compounded by the rising cost of living, the chronic shortage of affordable housing and the ongoing adult social care crisis. A recent survey from Carers Trust found more than half of young adult carers ‘usually’ or ‘always’ worry about the cost of living crisis.
In light of the project’s scheduled ending and to increase the visibility of young adult carers, QSA and Commonweal commissioned Nicola Aylward at the Learning and Work Institute to conduct a report on the injustices they face.
The report ‘We Still Care’ highlights Move On Up’s achievements and recommendations for what the Government, local authorities, housing providers, and the third sector should do to ensure the housing needs of young adult carers are urgently recognised and addressed.
Under the Care Act 2014, local authorities have a duty to carry out transition assessments with young adult carers. However, housing is absent in the requirements, and previous research shows local authorities often fail to carry out the assessments. This has contributed to a lack of awareness around the housing needs of young adult carers, leaving them unrecognised and unmet.
To this end, the report calls on the Department for Health and Social Care (DHSC) to issue guidance to local authorities setting out a requirement to assess young adult carers’ housing needs when conducting transition assessments, and that local authorities ensure that transition assessments are routinely carried out.
In addition to ensuring practitioners recognise young adult carers’ housing needs, steps must be taken to address the housing barriers affecting this group due to unaffordable housing across the private rented sector and long waiting lists for social housing. As such, the report recommends local authorities and housing providers classify young adult carers as a priority need, alongside other groups with distinct needs.
Ashley Horsey, Chief Executive at Commonweal Housing, said: “We are grateful to Quaker Social Action for bringing the housing needs of young adult carers to Commonweal’s attention. Move on Up was a unique and innovative project, and the learning shows housing and support can positively impact the present and future life of young adult carers. Commonweal will use learnings from the project and recommendations from the report We Still Care to continue to push to ensure the housing needs of young adult carers no longer go under the policy radar.”
Judith Moran, director at Quaker Social Action, said: “We believe that the voluntary sector is at its best when it tries things out, pioneers new services and seeks to learn from them. Move On Up was a leap of faith for all concerned. We are so appreciative that Commonweal and our investors shared our spirit of adventure, and we are grateful to all the young people we housed for entrusting us with their housing and with their support, sometimes for years. Move On Up has shown that supportive housing for young adult carers makes a huge difference to their well-being and growth. We hope that these learnings help change existing policies and centre the needs of a neglected group of vulnerable young people.”