Many young people eventually enter care have experienced chaotic lives.
They've often been abused or neglected, making them vulnerable to exploitation,
substance abuse, self-harm, and mental health difficulties.
When they come into care, some find the residential foster homes they live in aren't enough.
These young people often moved from placement to placement until eventually it seems
only secure accommodation can provide the safe environment they need.
We spent some time talking with young people and their social workers,
discussing what it's like living in secure accommodation
Everyone was having meetings and decisions about where I was in my life
and it just felt like I wasn't being involved in any of it.
No one gave me a warning that I was going in to secure.
I didn't know anything about it. I just had a social worker turn up and she was
talking me through it and then the next minute these men came up behind me
and picked me up and threw me in the van and I was like, I didn't know what was going on.
I thought I'd got kidnapped. It was so scary and it was horrible.
Many young people described poor experiences of secure
accommodation and had issues with things like being confined and restrained
They'll put you in a completely empty room with nothing in. Like take the
mattress out, everything. And the bathroom would always be locked. The door would
always be locked until you needed a wee. I got dragged down the corridor. He had
these massive hands as well. Both his fingers were in my eyes when I was being
dragged down the corridor. I couldn't see nothing. Like literally, it was horrible.
I don't think he should have done that.
In contrast, more relaxed homely units do exist
and young people who stayed in these found life there easier
That secure I went to, I loved it because it was all not criminal it was
all welfare so like they were all really nice and it was more understanding.
Football, gym, cooking - they have like a music suite in there with Apple Mac
computers and instruments and that. Stuff like that. I feel better in myself and that
since I've been there - don't take drugs, don't hang around with the same people
since I've been there.
Despite this, few received the help they needed for
behaviour, emotional and mental health problems.
When leaving secure accommodation, young people followed different pathways
Just over a third of these young people settled in new placements and progressed well.
The rest did poorly. Many became troubled by behaviours such as self-harm and going
missing and many went back into secure accommodation.
The prevalence of exploitation mixed in with poor mental health, mixed in with neglect that leads
to secure or mental presentation that might need sectioning they're increasing.
Studies show this. I almost feel as if we need a social worker who's actually
clinically trained as well as the normal route that we go through but that's what
I want to fight. That's what I'm fighting for now and would like to see.
Positive outcomes appear to be down to the quality of the young person's placements,
consistent relationships with key adults and access to sufficient mental health support
In these cases, placements were maintained, young people continued to
progress positively and even displayed interests in career planning
To enable this positive progress for all our young people, action needs to be taken