Transforming ‘first homes’ for young people leaving care with Engie

Improving lives through better living and working environments, Engie is a leading energy and services company focused on three key activities: production and supply of energy, facilities management and regeneration. Their 17,000 employees combine these capabilities for the benefit of individuals, businesses and communities throughout the UK & Ireland.

Engie balances performance with responsibility, enabling progress in a harmonious way and allowing their customers to embrace a lower carbon, more efficient and increasingly digital world. Engie’s customers benefit from energy efficient and smart building solutions, the provision of effective and innovative services, the transformation of neighbourhoods through regeneration projects, and the supply of reliable, flexible and renewable energy.

Many young people leaving the care system, to begin living independently, will qualify for council housing and take on a rental property through the council.

But these houses are sometimes poorly maintained and poorly furnished. Whereas many young people moving into their first home, or flat-share, will have family support with furnishings etc, care leavers typically do not.

This leads to a situation where a young person can be living on their own for the first time, potentially in a new neighbourhood, with no comfortable spaces to relax, no cooking equipment and so on.

Engie were early signatories of the government-funded Care Leaver Covenant, when it launched in 2018, and quickly began supporting care leavers through employment opportunities.

But Engie wanted to go further in their commitment to the care leaver community, so we started exploring how they could leverage their organisational values, expertise and resources to create a distinctive that could, over time, improve the lives of large numbers of care leavers.

This led to the establishment of Engie’s ‘First Home DIY SOS’ programme, which aims to improve the ‘first home’ experience for care leavers and prioritises those moving into houses that lack basic furniture, curtains and white goods.

The programme leverages Engie’s network of skilled local tradespeople and provides refurbishing and decorating services with no cost to the young person. Care leavers and their support workers can apply for support through the Care Leaver Covenant or their local authority.

Over the first year of the programme, Engie provided ‘First Home DIY SOS’ services to 21 young people across Leeds and London and are in talks with Birmingham and Manchester councils about expanding the programme to those areas too.

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