Independence skills for young people leaving care

Learning to live independently is one of the hardest things for all of us, and it can often take a lifetime to learn everything you need to be self-sufficient. 

When you are preparing to live more independently, it can seem a bit overwhelming and we want all of our young people to feel supported as they learn the skills that they need to be independent.

Your social worker, the people who look after you, your personal advisor and the other people in your life who care about you, will support you to develop the skills that you need. Your Pathway Plan helps to track how you are doing with those skills and when you review it (at least every 6 months) you should be able to see how well you are doing!

Online resources

There are loads of amazing websites and YouTube videos for young people to get ideas, information, and guides on great life skills like budgeting, DIY, cooking and managing a home.

Some great ones are:

Key documents

Frequently asked questions

We have put together a list of frequently asked questions to answer any queries you may have about living independently.

I've never had to cook a meal before, where do I start?

Making sure you have a healthy and balanced diet is important but, if you don't have much experience of cooking, it is not a problem. You can start by learning some basic recipes. There are great recipe ideas from big supermarkets including Tesco and Asda, or from food writers such as Jack Monroe.

There is also a great scheme in Wandsworth called Bags of Taste. This is a learn to cook programme which provides help and practical support to buy and cook tasty, healthy and affordable meals. Bags of Taste deliver the food, equipment, and everything you need to your door, completely free of charge.

I can't work my appliances, can you help?

If you are struggling to work appliances such as your washing machine or cooker then check whether you have the instruction manual available. If you do then have a read through it as it will hopefully provide you with the answer. If not you may be able to find an answer to your problem online by Googling the name of the appliance. There are also loads of handy guides online including videos.

Here are a few of the guides we recommend:

I don't know basic first aid, can you help?

The NHS has a great page all about basic first aid, including how to do CPR and put somebody in the recovery position. They also have information to help with choking, bleeding, burns and scalds, drowning, and heart attacks.

Some charities such as St John's Ambulance and the British Red Cross run first aid courses that you may be able to enrol on to.

I'm not sure how to use public transport, can you help?

Sometimes you may need to travel using public transport, such as the train or bus. The TFL website will be the most useful place to get info but free apps like Citymapper are also really useful to help you get around. For the cheapest transport deals check out the Oyster card website.

If you need to travel by train then you can plan your journey using the National Rail website. You can type in the station you want to depart from, the station you wish to travel to, and on which day and time you plan to travel. You can also decide if you would like to buy a return ticket or a single. This will then bring up the possible options for you and tell you the price. You can often buy your ticket online or at the station using one of the ticket machines.

If you are travelling a long distance, it is sometimes worth booking a few weeks in advance to get a cheaper deal. If you make the same journey multiple times a week, you may find that Season Tickets offer better value for money compared to buying daily tickets.

How can I keep my home safe?

It's important to keep your home safe and secure. Some of the things you can do include:

  • Closing and locking windows and doors when you go out
  • Locking any outbuildings like sheds and garages
  • Not leaving important documents in obvious places
  • Making sure your valuables are kept out of sight

The Metropolitan Police have created a useful checklist for securing your home when you leave it.

Remember there are other ways to keep your home safe such as installing and regularly testing your smoke alarms, familiarising yourself with your fuse box in case you need to turn the power off, and knowing where to find the stopcock in case you need to turn the water off.

How do I look after my home?

Being a Tenant and having your own home is a big responsibility. Your PA is there to guide and support you all the way through the process but there are also some handy guides online! Shelter England have a useful guide that explains who is responsible for repairs in your rented home.

Sometimes your light bulbs may stop working. If this is the case then you will need to change them. To make sure you do this safely, follow this wikiHow guide.

Your PA will help you to set up your bills and your utilities - they might also refer you for support from our floating support service, DePaul. There are some great videos online, like this one How to Set Your Gas & Electricity Up For First Time.