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Learning something new (and useful!)

Some young people refer to leaving care as ‘the instant expectation of adulthood’. They have told us that learning practical skills is really important, but that resilience is just as essential for living independently.

At St Christopher’s we want young people to be as prepared as possible for this transition, as well as support them to access education, training and employment. Our life skills work achieves both of these aims.

It’s not that I know how to cook fajitas, although that is pretty handy. It’s that I always have that memory. So when things are hard and I need to laugh, I think about that time when we were cooking and the wok handle broke and everything fell on the floor. I still laugh every time I think about it! And when I think it has all gone wrong and I can’t fix it or get back where I was, I remember that day and laugh and think it will all be OK.
Jemma, young person at St Christopher’s

AQA Unit Award Scheme

The AQA Unit Award Scheme offers young people the opportunity to have their achievements recognised with a formal certificate each time they successfully complete a short unit.

Young people can complete AQAs in things like preparing a CV, planning a travel route and staying safe online. These nationally recognised qualifications can support young people in applications for education, training and employment, as well as giving them the self-confidence that comes from real, externally-accredited achievement.

AQAs show young people that they are progressing and moving forwards, especially when used with the Outcomes Star™ for capturing achievements.

When my social worker told me I had to get ready to leave my children’s home I did not feel ready. I was only 16 and I didn’t know how to live on my own. But Life Skills helped me prepare and get ready. Staff showed me how to cook and helped me open a bank account and budget. I’m not going to lie I still find this hard but I know how to cut costs, save and make sure I keep paying my rent.
Damien, young person at St Christopher’s

Building resilience in young people

A person’s resilience levels are based on four things: a sense of belonging; positive learning experience; feeling in control; and having strong, enriching relationships. Being exposed to challenging situations can provide young people with opportunities to develop their problem-solving abilities and emotional coping skills.

One way we do this is through our Skills for Life Programme, which offers young people the opportunity to complete AQAs as part of a group setting. This style of activity has the added benefit of developing self-esteem, building friendships and teaching young people to reflect. Sessions include:

  • Maintaining a tenancy
  • Managing personal budgets
  • Cooking healthy meals
  • Meaningful use of time – volunteering, seeking employment or training opportunities

A standard cooking session might teach someone a new skill, but it won’t give them the tools to do things differently, persevere if something goes wrong, support their friends to keep going and laugh along the way. These are real life skills that we equip our young people with every single day.

I don't feel good about myself all the time but you kept believing and made me see that it can be OK. That's a bit like medicine.
Ahmed, young person