Written evidence submitted by Miss Shirley Sarah Knight


My name is Shirley Sarah Knight. I am a Care Leaver and I am passionate about children in care receiving the best support and guidance possible and would more regulation and set standards for children and young people living in homes. I also fully welcome organisations such as Ofsted monitoring these settings. I lived in a wide variety of accommodations for young people in care in Islington and Camden arranged for ‘young people with low support or high support needs’ between the years of 2013 to 2015. I am submitting this evidence with regards to call for evidence for;


Support staff in young people’s accommodation are frequently not suitably qualified in trauma-informed standards. This leads to insufficient knowledge in de-escalation, noticing mental illnesses instigated by trauma and supporting young people with stress. All children and young people in children’s homes have experienced trauma so this is a necessity.

Support staff are mostly inundated with administrative tasks which prevent a suitable level of interaction with young people.

There is a high turnover rate with support staff so young people in these homes do not form attachments and confidence to confide regarding breaches in safeguarding.


Young people are not informed of how to report safeguarding concerns in their peers or escalate to the right channels should they feel their complaints are not taken seriously.

These accommodations are typically neglected with many only provided with a security guard and typically one security guard on duty. There are no visitor rules within these types of premises. Visitors and security guards can access rooms of young people without prior consent and or have witnesses present. Young people are left in vulnerable safeguarding positions due to this and present risks for harassment and rape.

Accommodations for young people deemed as low support do not have frequent thorough risk assessments. Buildings may be in a state of disrepair and have issues such as mould which affect the health of young people. Accommodations typically have addresses on the internet especially accommodations with offices. Criminals have easy access to vulnerable young people who live there and loiter around buildings. There are no set standards except for the requirements of a valid DBS check for volunteers and mentors working with young people. These volunteers can introduce extreme views and opinions leaving young people vulnerable to radicalisation. It is typical for young people with a history of violence and or mental instability to be in accommodations without supervision. This is not only a risk to themselves but a risk to other vulnerable young people.

Education and employment outcomes

There are no set standards for life skills or a program that ensures young people leave learning how to budget, pay bills, eat healthy foods, maintain personal hygiene and have positive social relationships. Social workers typically delegate these responsibilities to support workers due to their increased caseload. 

Support staff are trained to assist young people in benefit applications but there are no set standards to ensure young people are provided with support such as internship applications, work experience, CV applications and job opportunities. In many scenarios, young people’s aspirations are not supported and they are encouraged to be ‘realistic’ leading to many young people not being in education and reducing their chances of positive social mobility.

There are young people deemed as having ‘low support needs’ because they are in education and not addicted to substances. These assessments are not extensive with regards to the trauma young people have experienced and the skills they need to thrive. There are no set standards in actively integrating young people into the community such as programs with local faith groups or youth programs.

Environments in ‘low support’ young people’s homes are not conducive to studying which the vast majority of young people do. It is typical for parties and raves to be held in low support accommodations with a variety of safeguarding issues presented.


April 2021