Helping Young Care Leavers in the UK Through Upcycling

Upcycling in support of our Empty Spaces Project

This blog on upcycling was written by asl Student, Layla Blanks.


As Maya Angelou said, “The ache for home lives in all of us, the safe place where we can go as we are and not be questioned.”

Over 10,000 young people who turn 18 leave the Care System every year in Great Britain, and of those, one-third become homeless within 2 years.

To most people, and even to me, until I did my own research and learning, the problem did not seem as significant as it truly is. These young individuals, new to adulthood, live in a world that puts the majority of them through a system from an early age that almost guarantees homelessness later on in life.

“Imagine expecting an 18 year old, who has just stepped into adulthood after years of being a recipient of different forms of care, to leave foster care and smoothly make the transition to independent living without any help. It’s difficult to imagine.”

Did you know that on average, moving house in London costs £2,043 – which is usually unaffordable for young people just coming out of care. These individuals are not the problem, they are the byproduct of a larger problem. We must do what we can to make this daunting transition easier, whether through direct or indirect support: providing furniture, help with moving, with costs, etc.


Taking on the Upcycling Challenge

My name is Layla Blanks and I have spent a week taking part in the Habitat for Humanity Great Britain upcycling challenge.

Upcycling is the creative reuse of a household object. It might be an old table, chair, desk, a bin to carry things, etc. It is different from recycling because recycling involves the destruction of waste to create something new. Instead, upcycling is transforming old and unwanted products into new and useful items. The items that I upcycled will go to social housing to help those in need.

I upcycled an old rundown table. I spent a week sanding the table, hosing it, drying it, priming it, and fixing it. When it came round to painting it, I decided to honour pride month and blasted the colours of the rainbow across the top of it. (Also, as a reminder that the sun always does come out.)

layala ASL upcycling table before and after
The table before and after being upcycled.

I then varnished it to ensure that it would last longer than in its previous life. I went through a similar, but less time-consuming, process with the old food cans that I transformed into flower pots.

The table is more for practical use, and the flower pots are an addition to brighten a new home up. Not only did the final products fill me with a sense of achievement, but I know they will make a difference in a young individual’s new home as it will become a part of their ‘safe place’.

layla ASL upcycling flower pots
Upcycling old cans into new flower pots.


Preventing Furniture Poverty

Upcycling is arguably one of the most valuable things one can do to help people in need of not just a house, but a home. Furniture poverty is a very real problem and yes, it is undoubtedly amazing for young individuals to have a place to live, but is it really liveable if there is no bed? No table?

These are essential furniture and appliances that make for a liveable and comfortable home.

Put yourself in the shoes of someone trying to live in a space without furniture.

So, please take the initiative to help these people experience the comfortable life that everyone deserves – not to live in a house, but in a home.


To get involved in our upcycling project please click here



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