LifeLabs’ positive outcomes were so well received, Barnardo’s is scaling up the pilot project nationally, providing potential to reach 150,000 young people who are in or leaving care in the UK.
Around 10,000 16 to 18 year-olds leave local authority care in England every year. Trying to manage alone before they’re ready, many face loneliness and isolation and a third of care-leavers become homeless within two years.
Barnardo’s wanted to empower young care-leavers to live independently through a pilot project with their Plymouth Care Journeys service and design agency, Leap.
Eleven care-experienced young people were put at the heart of a co-design approach to ensure the project delivered exactly what they needed. It’s had a huge impact on the young people involved and resonated more widely with care leavers in Plymouth.
Initially starting with the creation of the project name and brand, as well as research to identify the specific skills care leavers most wanted, the co-design process led to the development of LifeLabs’ vibrant online portal, housing a video-based toolkit of independent-living resources.
Friendships were formed, and the eleven young people grew in confidence as they learnt new independent living skills and celebrated these at an exhibition. With limited promotion to 800 young care leavers in Plymouth, LifeLabs portal had 1,200 unique users in its first six-months and 1,100 digital views of the videos. Such was the success of the pilot, IKEA extended their support by an extra £70,000, enabling national roll-out.