The Cocoon set to transform lives of Havering’s children in care and care leavers

Cocoon opens
Councillor Dilp Patel, Deputy Mayor of Havering, cuts ribbon at opening of The Cocoon
Published: Tuesday, 24th October 2017

The Cocoon, one of east London’s only dedicated support hubs for children in care and care leavers, has been opened in Romford.

Children’s Commissioner for England, Anne Longfield attended the ribbon cutting with local young people in care, who were also joined by the Leader of the Council, The Deputy Mayor of Havering, Cabinet Members, and Council staff, at The Cocoon, Romford, on Tuesday 24 October.

The centre provides a safe drop-in space for children and young people living in care or leaving care, where they can meet with key workers and progress with personal development. The Cocoon will enable young people to develop key life skills, get access to training, receive additional education support, learn how to cook and get help with housing and health. It will provide new opportunities for children and young people as they move towards independent living.

The Children’s Commissioner for England, Anne Longfield, said:

“The opening of The Cocoon marks a significant day for children in care and care leavers in Havering. It’s a positive and exciting development which reflects the specific needs of care leavers.

“It will provide a hub for young people where they can learn key life skills and receive training. But it will also be a place where they can meet with friends and socialise at a time in their lives where they might need the extra support.”

To mark the launch. the Council has organised a week of activities showcasing the advantages of visiting The Cocoon. The packed programme of events include cookery classes hosted by the Havering Community chef, a creative music workshop led by local rapper Absonetti, a drama workshop with The Big Top group, and lots more.

During the celebration, Leader of the Council, Councillor Roger Ramsey announced that next month Havering’s Cabinet will be recommended to approve council tax exemption for all care leavers. The proposal will benefit young people up to the age of 25 who are leaving the care system and starting to lead independent lives. Currently, 50 of the borough's 130 care leavers are in independent accommodation and would be eligible for the exemption.

Councillor Robert Benham, Cabinet Member for Children and Learning, said:

“The concept of The Cocoon is unique. The Council-funded space was developed in partnership with children in care and care leavers, liaising with them throughout. Care Leaver Rebecca Jordan, 20, named the space and created the branding, while young people designed the layout and led on planning decisions at every step, from selecting the kitchen to organising events for the launch week.”

To coincide with the launch of The Cocoon, the Council will be unveiling ‘Face to Face Pathways’, a two-year innovation programme funded by the Department for Education. The programme is designed to improve outcomes for young people in care aged 11-17, as well as those leaving care aged 14-24. The Council is developing a social care system that allows social workers to spend more face-to-face time with children and families.