Adrian Scrafton is part of Fostering for Middlesbrough’s supported lodgings scheme, which provides a stepping stone to independence for young people leaving care.

Currently, Adrian lives with two boys who arrived in England seeking asylum – one from Iran, aged 17, and an 18-year-old, from Iraq.

Providers like Adrian – who undergo full personal and background checks – offer a spare room in their home to those between 16 and 21, and act as an advocate and positive influence on young people.

“It’s that crucial period between foster care and independence, when they need that help,” said Adrian, 41.

“I have always taken on apprentices and work experience in my business, I’m a Rotary Club member and had worked with young people there, so it seemed like something I could do.

“It’s about helping young people with life skills. Budgeting money, cooking and using a washing machine, applying for courses and jobs. Even getting a mobile phone contract.

“These are things that we might take for granted as an adult, but these young people need reassurance and support.

“They need to learn a whole set of skills. You don’t realise how often you might have relied on your family, on your own support system, there’s just so much for them to remember and get comfortable with.”

But sometimes even Adrian, who runs a heating and plumbing business, is “thrown a curveball”.

That’s especially true of his current situation: “The two young lads I have now are great company, really funny.

“They came to the country seeking asylum and it has made things a bit more complicated. Systems and how things work here are different – they can’t get a bank account for example, as they don’t have settled status.

“So let me tell you a story – one of them needed to get to college for an exam, and his bus didn’t show up. Instead, he ran to the train station and jumped on a train. Of course, he didn’t have a bank card so he didn’t have enough for a ticket.

“He ended up with a small fine which I’ll help him with, but I was so impressed he tried so hard to get there – that showed initiative, he didn’t want to miss his exam – but it also shows how difficult things can be for him. It’s a learning curve.

“There are big cultural differences as well. In Iran, they don’t have electricity on all day.

“I’ve got dogs – two Labradors, a cockerspaniel and a sprocker puppy – and in the boys’ culture, dogs don’t live in the house as pets.

“One told me – if they lick my hands, I need to wash them seven times in water and then in mud. But we had a think about it, and we got him some gloves.

“Now, when I’m at work, they always make sure they have food and water. They let them in and out. They’ve even had them out for walks.”

While the boys have now adapted to Adrian’s home, there have been challenges – but even those are just another opportunity for learning and growth.

He continued: “We had an interpreter at first, but they both speak English and we communicate brilliantly.

“Mostly, they’ve been fine and they’ve shown how adaptable they are.”

Adrian said the 17-year-old had become upset about some isolated comments made by a fellow student at college.

“That did upset him, but we spoke about it and on the whole, things have been good for him,” he continued.

Adrian said that the boys love to cook and clean – one wants to be a chef – and while dishes on the menu in his kitchen have adapted to become halal, both boys have enthusiastically helped prepare meals including game like rabbits and pheasants.

The older of the pair is football mad – despite trips to the Riverside Stadium, he supports Chelsea – and he referees games for local junior games.

“It’s all volunteering, he can’t work so he isn’t paid,” he continued.

Before the boys came in April and May, Adrian welcomed a teenage girl, now 18, into his home.

She previously said Adrian’s support had given her the confidence to focus on her academic studies.

Simply asking if she’d thought about what university she wanted to go to inspired her to apply for Oxford, and fulfil her dream of being a journalist, she said.

The teen was set to return to the home to celebrate Christmas, and Adrian is modest when asked if he’s proud of the help he’s given her.

“I realise those little things now. I don’t think you understand at first the influence you have,” he continued.

“I just try to be myself. Young people deserve praise, they’re building their confidence and their personality.

“She was here during the Covid lockdowns – so it wasn’t the easiest. But we made it work and I’m so proud to see how far she’ll go.

“Being part of the supported lodgings service, it’s incredibly rewarding – you get to see them flourish and develop.

“It’s an honour, really, to be involved in that time of their lives and to be able to help.

“I’d recommend it to anyone who thinks they can help.”

Could you help a young person take their next step to independence, and provide supported lodgings like Adrian? Call Denise Poskett, Supported Lodgings Officer on 01642 354103 to find out more today. 

It’s an honour, really, to be involved in that time of their lives and to be able to help