Life Skills for Care Leavers

Life Skills for Care Leavers

The project is cofunded by the Erasmus+ Programme of the European Union 

The Project

Young people leaving institutional or alternative care face many challenges in the process of adapting themselves to independant living. An important majority of them do not enter higher education, while an important number of the young people leaving foster or residential care are neither in employment, nor in education or training (NEETs), which strongly compromises their chances to successfully transition into adulthood. In the context of the above described challenges, the current proposal aims to contribute to the already ongoing effort to find solutions through: 

  •  Providing guidance and support to young people by creating a “one-stop-shop” where they will be able to access information, guidance, support and services provided by relevant organizations and institutions. 
  • Support young people through the process of transition to independence by creating a network of volunteer mentors to help them build their personal plan and assist them in their communication with institutions and organizations. 
  • Establish long term cooperation among the partners with the objective to assist the insertion of care leavers in European Youth Mobility, Volunteering, and Apprenticeship programmes. The opportunities the EU provides for Youth and Education represent an enormous opportunity for vulnerable young people for inclusion, participation, gaining professional experience and important professional and individual competences.

The project will directly involve about 60 young people aged 18-26 through the activities as well as around 500 indirect participants.

The main activities of the project are:

  •  The Life Skills for Care Leavers support e- platform and mobile app where care leavers will be able to access information and guidance on the services at their disposal, provided by relevant institutions and organizations, as well a support and coaching online through the app, by phone or person to person.
  • The Life Skills for Care Leavers training course for Mentors in order to ensure that the youngsters will benefit from high quality mentorship and coaching competences.
  • The Life Skills for Care Leavers training course for Young People in order to complete and facilitate the work of the mentors and provide young people with a set of important skills for their transition to adulthood.
  •  A Tool Kit for organizations and staff in European Cooperation and mobility for disadvantaged young people containing guidance in the introduction of quality, safety, and responsibility standards for sending and receiving young people in this situation. 5. A six months long pilot Mentoring programme will be organized in each country as part of the project.
  • Two international training events, one for mentors and one for young people, will be also implemented.

The project will assist young people leaving care to receive continuous support during their transition to adulthood; acquire specific social, financial and organizational skills and competences which will allow them to successfully transition to adulthood. 

The Life skills for care leavers Support e-Platfofm and Mobile app

Young people exiting institutional care face many challenges during their transition to adulthood, and easy and comprehensive access to information and services can do much to relieve at least part of the frustration linked to building a life project and entering into adulthood as an empowered and complete individual.

The coordination effort between social services and housing, mental health, and education and employment service as well as  the c cooperation between public services and non-profit organizations in the relevant fields needs to be enhanced, and with this activity we are trying to achieve exactly that.  

We will create a “one-stop-shop” where young people will be able to access information, guidance, support and services provided by relevant organizations and institutions.  Providing information and guidance at one place in a comprehensive format appears to be of crucial importance for decreasing young people’s sense of frustration and hopelessness, and, from there, their tendency to give up on pursuing the fulfillment of their personal projects.

The Life Skills for Care Leavers support e- platform and mobile app will be created, which will serve multiple purposes:

 – a Virtual, Intuitive, Easy to Navigate “One Stop Shop” where care leavers will be able to access information and guidance on the services at their disposal, provided by relevantinstitutions and organizations, as well as support and coaching online through the app, by phone orperson to person.

An Interactive E-learning Platform with training  programs for young people and mentors, with dynamic and useful modules, covering a wide range of skills and competencies, accessible anywhere, anytime.

– An Educational Resource, containing the guidelines to the approach implemented in the project’s training, the methodology, the training program, the results and the analysis of the results achieved by the series of trainings;

 – A Communication Platform for Intercultural Communication and exchange of good practices

An E-library containing resources related to transversal skills and competences learning and teaching.

The Life Skills for Care Leavers training course for Mentors

One of the key activities of the project is the establishment of a network of volunteer mentors for young people, who will provide them with one-to-one support through the process of transition to independence, help them create their personal life plan, be their first point of contact, and assist them in their communication with institutions and organizations.

With this approach we aim to address the feeling of loneliness and isolation,due to the lack of person-centered and individualized support from the part of the relevant institutions.  

Having somebody to follow through and assist youngsters with their challenges will help alleviate the feeling of social isolation and not being understood. Having a more mature and experienced persons to help and provide assistance will also help them learn to cope with the demands of daily life by following an example.

However, in order for the relationship between a mentor and mentee to be positive and empowering for both parties, mentors need to be prepared and have a clear awareness and understanding of their role and responsibility.

 

The Life Skills for Care Leavers training course for Mentors will be continuously developed and improved during the life time of the project, and its main modules will be organized in order to ensure that the youngsters will benefit from high quality mentorship and coaching. 

The main modules of the course will cover aspects such as roles and responsibilities, respecting personal boundaries especting boundaries, creating rapport and a relationship of trust and respect, empowering and motivating, providing emotional support, transferring skills and competencies etc.  

The Life Skills for Care Leavers training course for Young People

The main objective of the project is that young people leaving care receive support in designing an achievable life -project for their future as adults. Building a successful life project however requires a combination of transversial skills of competencies such as communication and social skills, financial literacy and organisational and goal setting skills. The training course for young people is designed to help them achieve just that with the help of their mentors.

 The Life Skills for Care Leavers training course for Young People will be developped as an interactive, intuitive and “fun” training course for young

people, in order to complete and facilitate the work of the Mentors and provide young people with a set of important skills for their transition to

adulthood. The Modules of the training course will be the following:

– Social and Communication skills: converstation skills, assertiveness, active listening, preparing for an interview, non-verbal communication etc.

– Financial literacy and management skills: managing a personal budget, financial institutions, asking for a loan/grant/social assistance etc.,

understanding the difference between consumption and investment, personal budget management techniques and tools etc.

– Organisational and goal setting skills: time management, effective goal setting, resource management, planning and putting into action a life project etc.

The primary objective of this training course is to be used in young people’s work with mentors. With it’s design we aim to make it as “light” and “fun” as possible, while at the same time ensuring effective and lasting learning outcomes by covering the three broad dimensions of learning: awareness-knowledge-skill.

The Life Skills for Care Leavers Tool Kit for organizations and staff in European Cooperation

A Tool Kit for organizations and staff in European Cooperation and mobility for care leavers containing guidance in the introduction of quality, safety, and responsibility standards for sending and receiving young people in this situation. The toolkit will allow participating organisations and local stakeholders send and receive young people, thus providing care leavers with opportunities to benefit from learning experiences abroad.

As care leavers face significant disadvantages, engaging this group in European mobility initiatives will have an enormous positive impact on them. However, the successful integration and completion of mobility projects for young people facing this type of difficulties requires high level of competence and motivation of mentoring and accompanying staff both from the sending and hosting organisations, personalised attention to each individual and their specific needs, as well as adapted and carefully designed missions, approaches, activities and objectives. Due to these requirements, inclusion of care leavers in EU youth projects is rare, and has higher associated risks, such as having the opposite of the desired effect. For this reason, we believe that close cooperation between European partner organisations and the establishment of quality, safety, and responsibility standards for sending and receiving young people in this situation is required for securing positive experiences and learning outcomes. The current intellectual output will create a toolkit kit for organisations in European cooperation and mobility for young people leaving care, covering the following: 

1. Communicaction and cooperation rules and modalities between sending and receiving organisations before, during and after the lifetime of the mobility

2. Preparation of young people before departure: safety instructions, cultural,educational/vocational and linguistic support

3. On arrival training and coaching procedures for young people, including cultural,educational/vocational and linguistic support

4. Mentorship and coaching criteria and rules for sending and receiving organisations

5. Designing suitable missions and activities for the duration of the mobility

6. Regulation of learning/working and living conditions for young people with disadvantages participating in European mobility

7. Ethical code for organisations, mentors and young people participating in European mobility

8. Quality approaches for emotional and adaptation support to disadvantaged young people

9. Cooperation and communication regulation for reaction in crisis and unwanted situations

10. Follow up and mentoring after the end of the European mobility. 

 

Get Involved!

We consider the Life Skills for Care Leavers  one of our most important projects. We hold the vision that every child and young person should be fully supported in becoming fulfilled individual and citizen. We also believe that doing the necessary for that to happen is the most rewarding investment we can do as a society.  For this reason, we are extremely thankful for the European Comission’s support without which the project’s realisation would be impossible.

 In order for the project to fully succeed however, we depend on the active involvement of citizens and our local communities. We need the help of  decision makers, public authorities and institutions. We need the support of educational, cultural and youth organisations. We need the assistance of citizens, experts, professionals, businesses, NGOs etc.,  in order to be able to fully fulfill our objectives. And there are so many ways that you can help us. Here below are some ideas:  

Ways to Get involved in the Project:

Become a Mentor

Gathering a team of highly motivated and dedicated volunteer mentors is at the heart of our initiative. Helping a young person building their life project is a great honor but also a tremendous responsibility. We are searching for motivated and responsible persons who are willing to take on the challenge of transfering their life skills to a youngster during an extended period of time. The Life Skills for Care Leavers Mentoring program will start in Spring 2020 and the exact dates will be anounced in mid-January 2020. 

In order to become a mentor you need to fulfill the following criteria: 

  • You are a fully responsible adult Portuguese citizen/resident, located in Sétubal or in the surroundings.
  • You do not have criminal record and/or personal/professional conditions which would prevent you from fulfilling your mission with quality and dedication. 
  • You have at least a secondary education degree. 
  • You have at least 5 years of working experience in your professional area.
  • You are aware of the responsibility your mission holds and are willing to carry it out for the entire 6 months period. 
  • You are willing and available to follow through the mandatory training for mentors(4 consecutive weekends, 12 hours each) before the start of the mentorship program. 
  • You are willing to subscribe to our ethical code and follow strictly our code of conduct for mentors. 
  • You are willing to follow our instruction, as well as collaborate fully with our team during the entire process(for ex. fill in the needed reports, evaluations etc.).  
  • You are willing and available to meet and work with your mentee at least 1 time per week for a minimum of 2 hours, for 6 months.  
  • You are motivated to participate in the project and have good communication and team work skills. 
  • You are a positive, flexible, tolerant and responsible person, confident in your capacity to take the right decisions at the right time, and are willing to ask for help when you are not sure. 
Help Us with Your Expertise and Skills

We will be extremely thankful to any professional in the areas linked to the project who would volunteer to help us with their skills and knowledge. If you are a professional, expert and/or researcher working in the areas of child protection, social services, social inclusion, psychology, education and training, personal development, career orientation etc., your help is more than welcome. You can help us through joining our advisory group of experts and professionals and monitor the development of the tools described above, review and test each intellectual output, thus helping us increase the quality of our results. You can also contribute by getting directly involved in the development of the tools described on the page above.

If you are a young person, motivated and interested to volunteer in the organisation to help us with this project, your assistance is welcome! There are a lot of things you can do for the project and we will make sure to find you a mission that suits your interests and talents. 

Thanks to the support of the Erasmus+ Programme of the European Union, we will be able to include 6 Portuguese young persons leaving care in the 6 months training programme. At the end of their mentoring period, they will have the chance to participate in the one week -long international training event in Reims, France, where they will work together with their peers from France, Slovenia, Italy and Turkey. 

While the inclusion of a bigger number of young people in the local mentoring programme is not associated with aditional costs, their participation in the International training event in France unfortunately is. The cost of the participation of one young person in the European Training amounts to 565 euros ( 275 euros travel costs, and 290 euros accomodation and food). We would like to increase the number of Portuguese young people taking part in the program from 6 to 10-12. 

As it is unthinkable for us to send just some young people and not the entire group of mentees to the international training, we would be thankful to those persons and organisations, having the possibility to support financially the inclusion of more mentees in the program, by securing the additional funds for their participation in the international event. This way, we will be sure that if we increase the number of young people receiving training, no one will be excluded from participating in the international training too. 

We, from our part take the responsibility to provide full and regular information, accompagnied with all supporting documents, to our contributors, and return back to the donors any funds not spent.  

Eligible donors can be persons and legal entities who are: 

  • Fully Responsible, Adult Portuguese citizens/residents, who do not have criminal record. 
  • Officially registered in Portugal legal entities,  which have not been linked to conduct related to a criminal organisation as defined by Portuguese law. 
Give an Internship Opportunity to a Young Person

If you are a company owner, or working in an organisation/firm, willing to train young people in your job, thus giving them professional experience and skills, please let us know! We are searching for organisations/companies in Sétubal, interested in providing on-the-job training to youngsters for between 10 and 20 hours per week, starting in Spring 2020. 

Join Our European Cooperation Initiative

We want to promote the participation of greater numbers of vulnerable young people in the European mobility programmes, and we want to do it right. For that to happen however, we need a network of qualified and responsible local and European partners, who would adhere to similar high quality standards and procedures. With the current project, we have taken the first step in this direction by establishing a network of five organisations in five European countries who would adopt and adhere to unified quality controls and procedures. However, our objective is to extend this network to more local and European partners, thus creating more opportunities for youngsters to gain valuable experience. If you are interested in joining our network, you need to fulfill the Erasmus+ Youth Mobility eligibility criteria and have the  capacity to work with young people with fewer opportunities.   

Help Us Expand the Initiative to Other European Countries

We are searching for organisations in other European countries, who share similar objectives to ours and with whom we can establish long-term cooperation after the lifetime of the current project. Our goal is to be able to continue to improve and develop the results of the current project with the support of partners who share our vision, values and dedication to quality. 

Help Spread the Word About Our Project

And last but not least, you can help us greatly by sharing our initiative among your personal and/or professional contacts. You can also like our pages and posts, share them on your social media, thus helping us involve better our communities. 

How to Get involved in the project:

If you are interested to support our project, or if you want to receive more information about its development, please send us a message through our Contact form with subject line “Life skills for Care Leavers”. Tell us about yourself and how would you like to be involved in the initiative. A member of our team will then contact you in the shortest possible delay. 

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