Care Crates

Care Journeys has worked with young care leavers and other stakeholders in the UK care system on various programmes over the last 5 years. They have identified some core issues then supported them to co-design and develop their ideas to test out. A common theme occurred – a lack of CARE felt at key points within a care journey. Many young people felt unprepared, lacking resources needed to thrive and even just to survive.

Triangles is an innovative youth participation programme run by Barnardo’s ‘Care Journeys’. Built on the principles of co-production and creating safe spaces for young people to share ideas, it provides an empowering and safe environment where young people can experiment. Young care leavers and their frontline workers come together to form a Triangle and identify a ‘mission’- they are then given the space to be innovative and supported to become powerful advocates for their missions at a local and national level. At the heart of Triangles is creating a space that embodies love and care and lets young people know that they can test ideas in a supportive and safe culture.

Care Crates began as a mission identified by young people on the Triangles programme to improve the experiences – especially the first couple of nights in their own/new accommodation (leaving care) to ensure they feel loved and cared for, by providing a Care Crate with items like a blanket, hot water bottle, hot drink sachets, photo frame, eye mask, new home card, food voucher etc. (Like a loving parent would). 

“Very Thoughtful and useful perfect for 1st night in new home” – Kate Brown

Our Essex Triangle (2 care-experienced young people and 1 frontliner worker) were eager to create change and passionate to change the experiences young care leavers often have facing independence at an earlier age. They felt this dealt with the here and now, it would add a small (but meaningful “sometimes the smallest things mean the most” as one of the young people often quoted) part to moving out alone for care experienced young people. It would be a ‘crate’ full of nice, useful things that a non-care experienced young person might receive from eg. a family member. They were keen to include a hand-written card, a toolkit, amongst other essentials.  Most importantly they wanted the crate to show some “care” in such a daunting, often lonely experience. 

“It was full of things I wouldn’t be able to afford to buy myself, the tool kit came in handy because I used it to build my new bed.” – Mel Bowen

They also wanted to design a book that had real, honest advice, quotes and places to access support within it. Something young people could look back on when needed.

2019-Piloting Care Crates- Essex Leaving Care Service x30 crates.

Katie – a young person within the Essex Triangle took a leadership role and began creating the care crates, packing 30 and attending meetings with local services to test out the crates and encourage young people to give us feedback on their usefulness. 30 care crates were delivered alongside the book to leaving care services and supported lodgings within Essex.

“A Care Crate is a crate filled with items we think will help and support young people in their first few nights in their new place, we give things like; pot noodle, pasta ‘n’ sauce, tea, coffee, hot choc, milk, mug, food bags, food clips, blanket, towels, socks, tool kit, new home card etc.  We are wanting to change the care system, so every young person gets the same opportunity, care and support with moving into a new place. Every young person should be given the same opportunity and support, regardless of their background. We would like to be able to gain enough feedback to advocate that this is the minimum standard that is made when a young person is leaving or entering your services across the world of Barnardo’s.” Katie

Care Crates and IKEA

In October 2022, Care Crates joined forces with LifeLabs (this website) and with a generous donation from IKEA (who also funded the LifeLabs programme) launched Care Crates nationally and 250 Care Crates were created and given to care-experienced young people across the UK. 

“Ideal very good for 1st night in own home” – Ally Green 

Employing someone with lived experience

This funding meant we were able to employ Katie to deliver the Care Crates project.