When the streets aren’t paved with gold

30 July 2015

It’s a fact that more teenagers are referred to Nexus Fostering than any other age group.  This trend has been growing steadily in recent years, so to recruit foster carers for young people in this age bracket is vital.

To highlight the need for carers for teenagers in London and other major cities and towns, our colleagues at our London office have written the following blog:  

London is an exciting city to live in, providing young people with many options of free or paid entertainment and distractions.  The darker side of London or any large inner city or big town offers a disenfranchised teenager searching for who they are, a place where they could bond with unsavoury or even dangerous people and create risky attachments.

At a time in their lives when they are facing complex hormonal, emotional and physical changes, one of the biggest challenges that teenagers face is learning where they fit in society and their social peer groups.  At the top of the list is learning what it means to be them.  These formative teenage years are when, in a secure environment, they are able to build a stable identity of themselves and where they belong.

 In a city such as London it is easy to feel anonymous and the bonds of an established street gang can offer a fostered young person a place to fit in and be a member of a ‘street family’, creating attachments and connections that could lead to violence, sexual abuse, bullying, crime or worse. 

Young people in foster care could have experienced a myriad of situations from neglect, physical or emotional abuse or fostering moves. They may have difficulties trusting the adults that make decisions in their lives.  A young person in this situation could easily be drawn to dangerous environments or influences in an effort to fit in or belong.

 A history of abuse or neglect can leave teenagers feeling they are not worth anything and so do not fear the risk, harm and violence associated with gang life. Many have grown up in environments where adrenaline is a necessary and constant companion. Coping with danger in a street gang seems second nature and relying on themselves seems more appealing than trusting adults, many of whom have let them down. Acceptance can seem unconditional and based on fulfilling clear tasks, rather than trying to feel accepted by an adult at home whose love may have felt less reliable and harder to obtain.

Providing a teenager with a stable foster placement where the young person is given enough freedom and independence but with the reassurance of boundaries and an adult safety net, will give them the opportunity to explore their identity, growing sexuality and expanding world while reducing potential dangers.

 All young people and teenagers need room and a level of independence to grow and explore their world, emotions and sexuality and be guided towards staged self reliance.  If this is done from a stable foster home through consistent, fair and supportive guidance, including curfews and clear communication, they can be in a position to make mistakes and not suffer long term consequences that could have life changing implications in a potentially dangerous and anonymous town such as London.

 At Nexus Fostering,

  •  57% of young people in our care are aged 10 and over
  • Most want to remain with their carers until adulthood

  • Supporting teenagers can be fun and rewarding

  • Teenagers need foster families as well….

 If you think you could offer a supportive, caring and safe home for a teenager, please get in touch.  The rewards of changing a young life for the better are huge and we support you all the way.



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