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St. Christopher’s Staying Close Pilot

Heyes, Kim and Allen, Daniel and Hothersall, Grace and Mitchell-Smith, Zinnia and O'Leary, Christopher and Ozan, Jessica and Szifris, Kirstine (2020) St. Christopher’s Staying Close Pilot. Project Report. Department for Education.

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Abstract

Evidence presented in this report suggests that the St. Christopher’s Staying Close pilot has made substantial progress in setting out expectations and boundaries within relationships. Policies created by St. Christopher’s have already been adopted by both the London boroughs of Ealing and Hounslow. Key messages from this report focus on how the Staying Close model has been used by St. Christopher’s and how they are starting to achieve positive outcomes in several areas: 1. Outreach: The idea of emotional closeness (rather than physical closeness) is important to St. Christopher’s. This unique take on the idea of ‘staying close’ is a reflection on the amount of out of area placements that St. Christopher’s take on within their children’s homes, and therefore the young people taking part in Staying Close can be from anywhere in England. 2. Co-production and evolution: The pilot has adapted and changed following feedback from young people, and the care workers associated with the Staying Close. The continued development has involved a significant amount of co-production with all people involved, including future users of Staying Close. This co-production aspect promoted by St. Christopher’s reflects the pilot’s genuine desire to allow young people to gain autonomy and its ability to actively engage young people in decision making. 3. Transition home: St. Christopher’s has a four bedroom home that is used to help young people practice and gain independent living skills, increasing their chances of success once they have moved into their own accommodation. St Christopher’s also provides ‘pop up beds’ for young people who would like to temporarily return to their children’s home, in times of celebrations or adversity. 4. Changing cultures: St. Christopher’s is committed to ensuring that there is a culture change within their children’s homes, challenging outdated practices and allowing for organic change. They also recognise that some of the staff will not want to buy into the long-term relationships that Staying Close offers, and it will not be mandatory to take part. St Christopher’s identifies authentic relationships as being key to the success of the offer. 5. Managing relationships: Recognising how to end relationships in a managed way is an acknowledgement of the transitory nature of adult relationships, and an important issue to learn for young people who may previously have had many relationship breakdowns. However, rather than rely on creating just one relationship, St. Christopher’s is creating a community. This is built through the network of young people and care workers, past and present. This helps young people to grow their social networks, and also allows for the creation of a peer support system.

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