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Care leavers in Leeds benefit from new DIY SOS scheme

An innovative pilot project has been launched during National Care Leavers’ Week, by Child Friendly Leeds ambassador ENGIE and Leeds City Council is giving Leeds care leavers a helping hand to live independently.

The scheme, known as DIY SOS, sees energy and regeneration specialist ENGIE carry out work on future properties of individuals moving into independent living, such as plumbing, joinery, electrical work, plastering and redecoration.

The goal of the scheme is to deliver practical support to individuals taking their initial steps out of foster care, while still being supported by the corporate parenting team at Leeds City Council.   

The first project was completed in March 2019 for 18-year-old care leaver ‘Katie’ was matched with a one bedroom flat in north Leeds. Katie is now at home in her newly-refurbished flat and is absolutely delighted with the results. The flat was professionally painted, modernised each room ready for new carpets to be fitted throughout. Additionally, 7 other properties have since been completed with another 5 to follow in the coming months.

In October 2018, ENGIE signed up as a Signatory Partner to the Care Leavers Covenant, which was commissioned by the Department for Education and forms part of the government’s keep on caring strategy, which supports people leaving care independently.

Claire Preston, Social Value Manager at ENGIE, said: “The regeneration work we do with our partners is not just about the bricks and mortar, it’s about helping to transform the lives of local people. The transition into living independently can be a daunting time for care leavers like Katie, so we’re delighted to be able to provide a helping hand by ensuring their new property is a welcoming home.”

Councillor Fiona Venner, Leeds City Council’s Executive Member for Children and Families, said: “In Leeds, we truly value partnership working and ENGIE’s work supporting care leavers is a fantastic example of how, together, we can make a positive difference to the lives of some of our city’s most vulnerable young people.


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