Excellent standards of education, leafy green outdoor spaces and close communities are just some of the reasons why East Renfrewshire has consistently been named as one of the best places to raise a family in recent years. 

But for some children and young people in Barrhead and other parts of the area, their family situation does not always match this picturesque ideal of life at home. 

For dozens of young people across East Renfrewshire, the reality is they are forced to quit their family home for a number of reasons, often leaving their friends, schools and lives behind. 

Fostering offers a home to many of these children under the age of 16, but, until recently, for young people up to the age of 21 this was not an option. It meant they were often left to fend for themselves whether they were ready or not. 

However, introduced in 2014, supported carers – the term used for those who foster young people between 16 and 21 years old – now offer a sanctuary and stable family life for those who may be vulnerable. 

Thornliebank-based supported carer Lynda Webb knew all too well the positive impact that caring for a child could have on their development. 

As a mother of two, Lynda, alongside her husband, has years of experience looking after children and young people. 

After working as a foster carer for four years for East Renfrewshire Council, the two children Lynda had looked after moved on.

In 2014 the possibility of looking after a slightly older young person came up and, despite some apprehension about the potentially different challenges involved with older children, she decided to look into it. 

She is now a supported carer for a young person in their late teens from the area.

“When people think of fostering they automatically think of younger ones, she said. 

“Once my own boys got a bit older I knew I could think about taking someone who was a bit older, about 16, but it wasn’t something I had considered before.

“I talked about it with my husband and the boys and we decided to go ahead with it. I had been thinking something more like school age, but the age gap with my sons is good and it meant they had someone to look up to. 

“It was a tough decision, and not one I took lightly, but it ended up being quite a smooth transition. He fits into the family very well and we just wanted him to feel welcome and safe.” 

However, at present, East Renfrewshire has only two of these households who are able to do this critical work. 

While demand may not be particularly high, the need for further supported carers willing to take on this responsibility could be invaluable to a young person’s life. 

East Renfrewshire is now looking to recruit six to eight new supported carers before the end of the year as part of a drive to increase the opportunities for vulnerable youngsters looking for stable homes. 

While her own experiences have been testing at times, Lynda stressed the opportunity to help a young person develop is something others should consider for themselves. 

She said: “Days can be difficult and challenging as, to some extent, taking someone into your home you want to treat them like your own, but their have to be boundaries for safe caring. 

“With your own children you can just go with your instincts, but with another young person you have to think about it, be aware of their background and think both emotionally and professionally. Not everyone has had the same start in life. 

“We tend to take every day at a time. I have certainly learned quite a lot and it is very rewarding to see someone develop a trust in you. 

“The key is talking about things as a family, and the support from the council, especially having the same link worker the whole time that I have been a supported carer, has been fantastic. 

“I worked in an office job in the civil service for 20 years working with young people, and the thought of giving that up was scary, but the chance to help children 24 hours a day is brilliant.

“Like any jobs there are challenges, but my decision has meant a vulnerable young person has been able to stay in a locality they are used to, with their friends and community still around. 

“I couldn’t go back now.”

For more information about becoming a supported carer to young adults in East Renfrewshire see: www.eastrenfrewshire.gov.uk/supported-care