A teenage care leaver who moved into shared accommodation run by Clearsprings Ready Homes Ltd via a contract with Kent County Council, says he was appalled at the dirty condition of the house and claims there was a lack of action over complaints of drug use.
The 19-year-old, who entered the care system aged 15 and had previously been living in supported accommodation in Margate, had taken the next step to independence with the shared home in Canterbury.
When the teen arrived he was horrified by the state on the bathroom, kitchen and walls, vents and cupboards and his bedroom.
The youngster, who is originally from Ramsgate, tackled the grime to make the property as clean as he could but is questioning why the firm contracted to provide ‘ready home’ accommodation had not appeared to have carried out any checks before moving him in.
The teen said the problems didn’t stop there. He says he made complaints about drug use in the house but no action was taken, there was no hot water or heating for three days, he was attacked by a housemate and then was let down several times when he was due to be moved on ‘welfare’ grounds.
When he finally was moved, the teenager was shifted to temporary lodgings in yet another district and says he was told to get a taxi, leaving his belongings unattended in the Canterbury property, which has a rent rate of £125pw, until arrangements were made to collect them.
Efforts to make complaints to Clearsprings Ready Homes -which also has a contract with the Home Office to provide accommodation for people classed as migrants – were fruitless because he was repeatedly told to contact Migrant Helpline despite the youngster not being under that service.
The teenager is supported by Kent County Council’s 18+ team which is made up of Personal Advisers who help young care leavers on the journey to independent living. The Care Leavers 18+ Service has a legal obligation to provide varying degrees of support until a young person is 25.
He said: “When I moved in the state of the whole house (in Canterbury) was unreal, thick dust in the room provided for me and the whole house, the toilet was vile, the bath was vile. “Then during my time there I experienced a number of issues, we were left without hot water and heating for around three days, I made a number of reports about the use of drugs but nothing was done and then recently I was attacked by one of the house mates.
“18 plus said they were ‘concerned for my welfare’ and suggested a move which they arranged with Clearsprings Ready Homes.
“Clearsprings said I had to accept and move that day or they would offer it to someone else, then they cancelled it. The move was rearranged and the lady came to collect all my items, just to receive a call from 18 plus care team saying Clearsprings had cancelled again.”
The move finally took place after the third attempt but the teenager said his complaints, which were first made at the beginning of February, still have not been addressed or even acknowledged.
Kent County Council says it has not received a direct complaint.
The youngster’s personal advisor had been copied in on emails seen by The Isle of Thanet News and KCC says: ” The young person raised some issues regarding the property with his Personal Advisor which were dealt with via a visit from the Ready Homes Housing Officer, who subsequently raised defect reports with the provider who was addressing these prior to and following this visit.”
Clearsprings Ready Homes has a five year contract with KCC for its Shared Accommodation service for Children in Care and Care Leavers. This is to provide a full range of stable, safe, well maintained accommodation for service users nominated by the council.
The contract, which has an estimated value of £20million, runs until October 31, 2022.
On its website Clearsprings Ready Homes says: “We have been successfully providing short term ‘ready to move into homes’ to central and local Government for over 14 years. We are a business that prides itself on providing value for money, quality and transparency in a package that meets the needs of our customers whilst complying with the stringent standards demanded by our contracts and local authority legislation.”
A Kent County Council (KCC) spokesperson said: “KCC takes its statutory duty extremely seriously, to ensure that all our young adults who are care leavers, are supported to ensure they are in safe and secure accommodation.
“When accepting shared accommodation, a young person signs up to an agreement to follow all house rules including undertaking, with support, their own cleaning, including communal areas. Each individual bedroom in the shared accommodation is given a deep clean at each change of occupier by the contracted provider.
“Under the contract which sets out the expected property standards, the provider carries out monthly unannounced property inspections and has set timescales for rectifications when reported. They alert the relevant young person’s Personal Advisor (PA) of any issues found with the property and seek to have them rectified.
“KCC also holds monthly monitoring meetings with the contracted provider to review their contractual performance measures. Currently, due to Central Government Restrictions regarding the Covid-19 pandemic, only essential inspections have been carried out.”
KCC says says accommodation moves are usually planned but there are some occasions when there are no available properties in the requested area.
The spokesperson added: “If a young person is moving due to health and/or safety issues at their current property, they may initially be given temporary accommodation to ensure their safety and wellbeing.
“The immediate safeguarding of the young people supported by KCC services remains paramount and this is a short-term measure until a longer-term accommodation can be found in the requested location. Full support will continue to be in place for the young person via their PA.”
The spokesperson said there is a set complaints procedure that youngsters are made aware of and complaints of criminal activity will be reported to police.
A Clearsprings spokesperson said: “The general issues raised have been addressed by the Kent County Council. For Data Protection reasons, we would not comment on any young person’s specific circumstances.”
The Children & Social Work Act 2017 introduced a new duty on local authorities, to provide Personal Adviser (PA) support to all care leavers up to age 25, if they want this support. Under previous legislation, local authorities were required to only provide care leavers with support from a PA until they reach age 21, with that support continuing up to age 25 if a care leaver was engaged in education or training. The new duty came into force in April 2018.
The answer is simple . Instead of whingig about it ….CLEAN IT !. These people want everything on a plate.
He did clean it. Not sure who ‘these people’ are, he is a care leaver and so KCC is the corporate parent providing the support that other teenage kids get from their families.
I’m unsure if you read the article but the article does say this young gentleman has indeed cleaned it, and appears to me he is sharing the story so people are aware of the low quality of housing supplied by this company and KCC
Fine. Then pay him the money the providers were paid to do the job
Exactly Phyllis! If our tax money has been paid to an obviously incompetent company, which has failed to comply with its KCC contract, sack them! This young man should not have had to clean this place, it should have been inspected, and viewed by him before he even moved in!
Well done to this young man for speaking out to expose the disgusting treatment of those young men and young women children really who are unfortunate enough to find themselves in the so-called care system there is no care all the company that has been contracted out to supposedly look after these youngsters is interested in its profit not humans. This story needs To be exposed nationally throughout the media well done Cathy for running this sad story. It’s no surprise that many youngsters end up in crime when they are treated like this.
I could not agree more, Ann.
From the photographs this had been like this for sometime, this is an established company that has been in this sector for a long time – no excuses. Really sad that KCC feel that this is acceptable to let this young person down when he needed it most … Care on a budget and the cheapest provider gets the work … Shocking. Well done for getting this story out and it l agree with Ann, this should be exposed nationally to send ALL local authorities a reminder of their corporate and moral responsibilities.
I’m unsure if you have read the article Kevin…. but the article shown that this young gentleman has indeed cleaned it! And he has taken to media to warn others about the lack of care both KCC and the company supply, as evidently the house wasn’t clean and welcoming. Appears to me that the company are getting there money so they don’t care
Full marks to this person who cleaned up others dirt. Well done, you have shown you have the ‘can do attitude’ rather than the opposite.
No marks to the care provider -0.
So sad to read the corporate guff coming out of the official statements from Clearsprings and KCC. They’d rather hide behind a corporate stance than apologise and admit they’re struggling with their statutory duties and contracts. This poor lad has been through a lot and he doesn’t deserve to be gobbed off. That toilet looks like something out of Trainspotting. Good on him for rolling up his sleeves and being the better man. I wish him luck and hope he gets treated better from now on. My mum was in care throughout her childhood until she made her own way in the world at 15 and she went on to achieve great things.
Looks like he made a reakly good job of it so he will be an asset to a landlord when he ultimately goes into fully independent living. Good luck to him.
The way they treat the youngsters is diabolical. I have been working with one particular young man and am shocked at the state of some of the conditions they are expected to live in in Thanet and Canterbury. The youngsters are also moved about from premises to premises without any notice so the company can get the best use out of each accommodation offered. He was unable to settle and unpack because they would expect him to move again with no notice, then each time give no help with moving his belongings. Luckily he had a good support worker who helped out. Cleaning had not been done at any of the premises he was told to turn up at before he arrived. he ended up doing it all himself. You could see in the images above that the state of that filth looks like it had not been cleaned in over a year at least. Not only the filth and being moved about to other dirty premises either the lights were not working, or the heating not working, window broken or door not locking. There was always an issue that was ignored or couldn’t be rectified when called in. The standards have been set too low but have got worse since the pandemic began due to staff not working.
It is no excuse though as they are mostly vulnerable kids who have had a bad time at home and taken into care by KCC to improve their lives, which is not happening with many who are put into the care and accommodation of some of these private companies who are only thinking about their profits. It is not a good start in life for them, they feel nobody cares. Kent County Council should remove the contracts from those poor companies and take control themselves. This should be non-profit making care.
Well done Kathy, glad to see a reporter ballsy enough to take on issues like this without pandering to local councils. Hope the lad gets all the help he needs going forward, he sounds like one of the good ones and deserves the support which is so often lacking in todays society. We all know a ‘Kevin’ haha
Poor lad, and considering that’s meant to be run by the council. Good on him for being the better person. Although iv never been in care iv spent my whole life renting sub standard accommodation held to ransome by corrupt landlords. Iv always worked and payed into the tax system. I have no faith in the government who let this type of thing go on. Instead of helping protect the vulnerable they are used by profiteers. I wish the gentleman well and keep up his good spirit as the nice things in life will go his way.
Appalling. Nobody seems to really care about these people. Why should he be expected to clean up after other filthy people. The authorities that allow this are uncaring and out of order.