Calman has provided Housing Support since 1998 and we now provide support, in various forms, to over 300 young people in the Highlands. Our housing service is registered with the Care Inspectorate and is commissioned by the Highland Council Housing and Property Department.
In the 15 years since it was formed, Calman has become known as an organisation which is uniquely adept at engaging with young people. Calman’s reputation is built on a track record of making practical differences to the lives of young people and we measure our success against our ability to enable young people to progress towards sustaining independent living, holding down a job or moving towards further education or training. At the same time we recognise that, in addition to achieving positive outcomes, the process of engaging with young people and allowing them to discuss their difficulties can be valuable in itself.
When a young person works with our housing support team they benefit from expert housing advice – most of our staff have years of experience in housing support and backgrounds in the social sector. However, Housing Support can often be the beginning of developing a wider plan for a young person. Calman aspires to offer young people a holistic service to meet more than just housing needs. Young people can also work with our training team, who can give advice on preparing for the world of work and help to move into the training or employment they wish to pursue. This means that the young person can move forward at a pace they can sustain, working towards a plan that they have endorsed and learn new skills whilst receiving housing support to eliminate the obstacles that can prevent sustainable change. We believe that our holistic approach greatly increases the chances for a long-term positive outcome.
The fact that young people work with us because this is their choice rather than a requirement means that from the start they are focused on working with us to achieve the changes they want to make. We then work with the young person, offering encouragement and advice but always respecting the wishes and desires of those we work with. It is important that young people have the help they need available to them but our experience is that the only way to ensure sustainable change is to pursue goals that are shared rather than imposed upon people. This consensual approach also ensures that we make best use of our resources by helping those who are most receptive to change.
Young people leaving home, taking on householder responsibilities at a young age, often have to deal with things they wish had not happened. The relationships we build with young people allows us frame these challenges positively, aiming to show that in dealing with the hard things they need to do now means they have a better chance of success in the future. With the right support, young people can learn by overcoming difficulties and take confidence from their own ability to deal with challenging issues. We highlight successes to young people so that they can build up a sense of progress – knowing that if they have overcome a challenge once they can do so again.
The result of building confidence is that our Housing Support aims to be a permanent solution to temporarily problematic circumstances – we want to give young people the ability to stand on their own feet and not increase their reliance on support. Of course, everyone needs support from time to time, but our service can only be successful when, gradually and with a network of support in place, a young person leaving our service is more independent than when they started.
We believe that everyone has potential, and Calman’s aim is to unlock that potential and support each individual to achieve their goals. It is our hope that young people will realise that they have a great deal of potential to do what they want in their lives. If we have achieved this we have succeeded: if not, we will work with the young person until we do.