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Need help cooking, shopping, paying bills, getting a job?

When you first begin to live independently you can be amazed at how much you need to begin to think about - rent, food shopping, bills, getting a job etc, etc. Here is some information to help you to think about just some of the skills you will need to help you succeed when you are living independently.

Finding a job

You should have already had some advice from your careers advisor but they can also help you if you need advice about:

  • Applying for a job.
  • Finding out about an apprenticeship, training or volunteering.
  • Filling out application forms.
  • Help writing your CV.
  • Preparing for an interview.

For more information, try these pages Employment and Training

Money

When you have moved in to your own place you will have to pay all sorts of things that you haven't had to think about before such as rent, council tax, electricity and gas bills. You will need to manage your money to make sure that you have enough to pay all your bills and for other things like food, clothes and to top-up your phone and TV licence.

Bank Account

Learning to manage money is a really important life skill and having a bank account is a big part of this. Most employers pay wages directly into a bank account and it is also the main way to receive benefits and grants.

You may also want to open a separate savings account. You can put aside a small amount each week or month and it will build up over time. This might mean that you can buy something outright and not have to take out a loan or get into debt. With loans you usually pay interest (some extra on top of the money you have borrowed). This costs you a lot more in the long run and many people run into serious debt by taking out loans.

If you don't have a bank account and you are 16, ask your Social Worker to help you open one.

See www.whataboutmoney.info for more information on money for young adults.

There are also advice leaflets produced by banks – you could ask for one when you open a bank account. Help you need with money management, life skills and practical tips should be included in your Pathway Plan.

Credit Unions

These are different to banks and offer a convenient way to save and the opportunity to access low cost loans and a range of other services.

Doorstep lenders and "loan sharks"

Don't be tempted to borrow money from anyone going door to door offering a loan. Loan sharks seek out people on a low income and even though it may seem like a quick solution to a problem or a way to pay for something like Christmas presents, it is never a good option. They are seeking to take advantage of vulnerable people and you will end up paying back much more money than you borrowed in the first place. Lenders often use violence and threats to get their money back. There is a number to report loan sharks to stop more people becoming victims. Confidential Hotline: 0300123 3311.

Benefits

Most 16 & 17 year olds are excluded from making claims for benefits. However there are some specific groups (e.g. lone parents; disabled) that may be able to claim – your Social Worker should help you make your claim for benefit.

Once you have reached 18 you can claim benefits in your own right. If you are unemployed you will be able to claim Jobseekers Allowance. To receive this benefit you have to show that you are looking for work; that you are willing to work and that you have a signed agreement between yourself and your Personal Adviser in the Job Centre which agrees what steps you are taking to find work; what type of work and the hours of work.that you are looking for. You will have to 'sign on' every fortnight on a specified date and time. Failure to do so can result in your benefit being stopped.

You may be able to claim Income Support if you are a lone parent or carer. Some young people that are in education may be entitled to claim this benefit providing they meet other criteria.

If you are sick and/or disabled you may be able to claim Employment and Support Allowance – you can sometimes get this benefit even if you are still in education – your Personal Adviser should be able to help you.

The National Care Advisory Service (NCAS) provide information in a leaflet Know your Rights, Know your Benefits a guide for young people in and from care.

It is important to get correct and clear advice about benefits, because they are complicated and confusing. Benefit and employment advice is available from the Citizens Advice Bureau.

Budgeting

A budget means that you note down how much money is coming in and what you need to spend on essentials such as rent and council tax and other normal spending such as clothes and a bit on your social life. It is a good way to make the most of what you have and make sure that your money lasts until your next payment and it can stop you running up unintended debts.

If you are struggling to manage or are getting into debt – get some advice straight away; don't wait until it becomes a massive problem. Talk to someone and get the support you need. For more detail on benefits and money ask your Social Worker or visit your local Citizens Advice Bureau.

Staying Safe

Here are a few things to think about to make sure that you keep yourself safe both in your home and when you're out and about. Lots of them may seem obvious but it's better to be safe than sorry.

  • Make sure your windows are closed and your doors are locked if you are going out.
  • Make sure that all candles or cigarettes have been put out properly before you go to bed.
  • Always ensure that your cooker is turned off when not in use.
  • It would be a very good idea to have a free home fire safety check from the fire service. The check is free and you can get free smoke alarms, fire blankets and carbon monoxide alarms.
  • Don't invite someone you don't know very well back to your home.
  • Always keep your bank card pin number secret.
  • When answering the door to utility companies (e.g. gas meter reading) always ask to see the caller's ID. If they can't show you don't let them in.
  • Take money out of the Cashpoint during the day if you are planning to go out in the evening.
  • Make sure you have enough money so that you can get home at the end of the evening.
  • If you are out at night, stick to main roads and well lit, busy areas.
  • Stay with friends and don't walk home alone or with someone you don't know.
  • Don't show off your valuables when you are out in public.