Children’s charity Barnardo’s has unveiled a spoof B&B website to highlight the terrible housing conditions facing young people leaving the care system in England. It is launching the website to support ‘National Care Leaver’s Week’, which kicks off today.
At first glance Carebandb.org.uk (#carebandb) looks like a glossy website for tourists booking desirable and comfortable B&B accommodation. However, visitors to the site soon see examples of the disgusting places some young people leaving care are placed in.
The online brochure builds on the actual experiences of care leavers. It advertises a selection of cheekily-named B&B’s including ‘The Grim Retreat’ and ‘Mournful Inn’. The reviews for each parody those found on tourist websites with feed-back like ‘Be unpleasantly surprised’ and ‘Isolation with a cold shower’. The reviews are accompanied by dismal pictures of run-down bedrooms and filthy bathrooms.
The skit site urges people to support Barnardo’s Beyond Care campaign. The charity is urging campaigners to contact their local councillors to demand better conditions for the country’s care leavers in desperate need of a suitable roof over their head. Members of the public can bring the issue to the attention of their local councillor by simply entering their details on the site. An email will be then issued to their councillor from their own email address, via ‘Carebandb’.
Ahead of the Government’s assessment of the care leaver strategy, due to take place this month, Barnardo’s hopes the site will give a clear sense of the harsh reality facing these young people. The charity is asking supporters to help put pressure on local authorities to reduce use of B&Bs to emergency instances only. Figures previously gathered by the charity show that 51% of local authorities are placing care leavers in squalid B&B accommodations for long periods of time, against government guidelines.
Barnardo’s CEO Javed Khan says: "The site is a tongue-in-cheek way of getting across a serious message about care leavers forced to live in cold, stark accommodation. The reality is that while many browse inviting websites filled with cosy and welcoming B&Bs for the perfect weekend away, our vulnerable young people have no choice but to accept the unacceptable.
“We recognise that local authorities are working with limited budgets but they need a range of ways of providing emergency accommodation. Our new guidance for local authorities and our Beyond Care campaign aims to help councillors provide better support to care leavers.”
“Many young people leaving care have already had horrific childhoods. We owe them a better start to adult life than this.”
18yr old care leaver, Jack had no option but to stay in B&B accommodation when he left care aged 16yrs old. He stayed there for over three months.
Commenting on the experience, Jack said; “When I stayed in B&B accommodation I was constantly scared and worried about what could happen to me. The B&B was above a pub so I’d have to endure extreme noise levels and drunk people banging on my door very late at night. There was no heating in the room and the TV wouldn’t work, so I quickly became very depressed and lonely. On more than one occasion I contemplated suicide.
“Barnardo’s offered me support in the form of a mentor who was always there to chat and offer advice when I needed it most. The charity also helped me find the bed-sit that I currently live in and I’m very settled there.”
To help Barnardo’s improve living conditions for young people leaving care, visit www.carebandb.org.uk #carebandb