Focus on RICF's 'Independent living' project - an update by Suzie Marsden 

Teenagers support group autumn

This project provides a training and discussion group for teenagers aged 13 – 19 from vulnerable backgrounds (foster care, family reunification project or young mums in the abandonment prevention project) to teach them and facilitate discussion about independent living skills, preparing for employment and keeping a job, managing a budget, personal safety, use of IT and internet safety and sexual health. Over the summer we have been supporting eight teenagers in this project; seven young women aged 13 -17 and one young man aged 17. Two of the young women, aged 16 and 17, are young mothers who came to know RICF through our abandonment prevention project. RICF’s psychologist Simona facilitates this group, arranging group discussions on various topics relevant to the young people, and being available for phone contact when the teenagers face difficulties or have questions. Each of these young people faces real challenges given their young age, whether having been orphaned or abandoned and being raised by other family members or a foster carer, or raising a child of their own without the support of a partner.

The young people are incredibly resilient. Two members of the group are twin sisters aged 16 who are cared for by their grandmother, who works as a cleaner. These girls excelled in their end of school year exams, with grades of 89.4% and 87.7% respectively and having had some time in the countryside over the summer, have now enrolled in part time work in a fast food restaurant alongside their school studies, in the hope of saving enough money that the family might be able to afford improved accommodation.

The young man is now working in construction but also enrolling in evening school to complete his school studies. Our youngest member of this group, at 13, has been in Czech Republic over the summer, competing in an international sports dance competition, after doing very well in her end of year school exams. One of the girls, 15, required hospital treatment towards the end of the school year and RICF helped her with the process of recuperating the school materials and enrolling for the year 8 final exams to allow her to enter highschool.

It is great that RICF is able to provide another 'family' setting where these young people can feel at home, be themselves and talk about their dreams and aspirations.