Strength to Settle

What happens when vulnerable young people see their strengths

1 in 3 young people leaving care in the UK will become homeless within their first two years of living independently!

A shiver ran down my spine when Rich at Settle shared this heart-breaking fact with me. In 2014 Katie and Rich, made a commitment to do something about this.

“It can be tricky” explains Rich, “the people we work with are young and often lead chaotic lives. They need to live independently a whole lot earlier than most young people and there is a big gap between the support they need and what is happening.”

Rich is calm, kind and gentle. He is clearly deeply committed to the programme that he and Katie have created. Settle works one-to-one, with what will be 100 young people this year, providing a 6-week programme of support in the young person’s new home. This is Settle's third year running and the recognition of the huge value of what they offer has meant that the number of people they are reaching has nearly trebled from year one!

Power up a positive start

Imagine a life living in care….perhaps institutions and people have regularly let you down. Perhaps you have known deep unkindness and been frequently reminded of your problems and mistakes. Now you need energy to launch into a new life and that foundation under your feet is feeling wobbly, to say the very least.

To counter the wobble the programme includes a special session that is focused towards what these resilient and amazing young people can do. It’s the beginning of a process to flip that self-doubting feeling into one of strength and positive recognition.

Character strengths play a part in the day and we are delighted to know that our pencils come in to the mix. The strengths session invites the young people to think about their top 3 strengths.

“…it can sometimes take a while for people to respond” says Rich, “many of them have never been asked about what they see as their strengths before.”

Stories are shared of how the strengths chosen have played out in their lives. Sometimes a strength can come from a time of suffering. One young woman, from Enfield, who had experienced domestic abuse, selected the strength Bravery and shared,

“He was dragging me down and I was becoming miserable because of it. What the hell! I feel stronger now because of the people around me. No way am I going back there.”

….and she didn’t. In naming the strength it increased in power and her determination was resolute.

They look at how they can use ‘other’ strengths and also discuss shadow strengths. This is when a strength may not be the most appropriate to use in a situation. For example, humour in the middle of a classroom test!

A focus on strength and positive psychology continues throughout the six weeks. All the programme staff are trained and certified coaches. Shaping what they provide to the individuality of the person is central to what they do. Seeing, building on and growing strengths is key.

“What I love most about the work is finding young people who have fallen through the cracks. I often find them sat on the floor of their big empty flat when I first walk in. I know I can have an immediate and practical impact on their life. They are so young and they just don’t have the experience. You can actually watch as they slowly get their life together, their flat takes shape, furniture appears and it becomes a home.”

Find out more about the amazing work at Settle and how you can help here.

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