Young people are given a helping hand into adult life
Vulnerable teenagers are being equipped with a ‘survival kit’ ready for when they leave care, to help them remain independent and healthy.
The Dorset’s New Adults (DNA) kit, provided by Dorset HealthCare - and described as ‘a big hug on your first night alone’ - gives 18-year-olds a box of essentials to support them into the adult world.
Each box contains foodstuffs, vitamins, hygiene/health products and a blanket, plus information signposting people to a range of advice and support. It aims to help set young adults on the right path and make them less reliant on health and care services.
The kit was the brain child of Abi Clark and Ele Jarrett from the Trust’s Looked After Children’s Health Team. They organised an event in Poole to give young people the opportunity to come along, choose their box design and pick the items they would like inside ready for when they leave care.
Care Leavers Nurse Abi said: “The event was a fantastic opportunity for young people leaving care and transitioning into adulthood to choose their DNA box and have a say on what’s included.
“We also offered information about local services and support they can access in the future, ensuring a healthy and happy lifestyle.”
The DNA kit idea became reality thanks to Dorset HealthCare’s annual staff innovation competition, Dragons’ Den, securing £3,000 for an initial 100 boxes. Abi and Ele pitched the idea alongside former Child and Adolescent Mental Health (CAMHS) service user Nikita Roberts, who explained that leaving the security and support of care at 18 can be an uncertain time.
After eight years in care Nikita now lives in supported living with a landlady and is expected to cook, clean, buy her own food and more. She is working towards living on her own and is going to university in September.
Nikita was involved with the survival kit from the start and even helped Abi and Ele decide the items that were included in the box. She attended the event to share her experience with other young people in care while also supporting Abi and Ele.
She said: “It can be really scary leaving care and living on your own. The DNA box is a real helping hand. I’d recommend the box to any young person about to leave care.”
The Looked after Children's Health Team is a small dedicated team of nurses, doctors and psychologists who work together with other local services to help children and young people in care and those about to leave care.
Nikita Roberts, Abi Clark and Ele Jarrett with the DNA survival kit at the event