Mhairi Sinclair (she/her)
I am a fourth Year Interior Design student from Scotland with a keen interest in the way design can improve an individual’s experience of their built environment, shaping their quality of life. My graduate project has centred around the creation of a community known as ‘Collective Pathways’, which proposes an alternative pathway for care-leavers. It seeks to avoid the ‘Care Cliff Drop’ often experienced by young people when leaving care, easing the transition from care to independence. The concept of home, its true meaning, and the way the home environment shapes, and is in turn shaped, by an individual’s identity has been the central focus explored throughout.
“Home fulfils many needs: a place of self expression, a vessel of memories, a refuge from the outside world, a cocoon where we can feel nurtured and let down our guard….. those of us lucky enough to have a home may rarely reflect on our good fortune.” Clare Cooper Marcus
Collective Pathways provides transitional housing for young people who have grown up in care, as they transition towards independent living. The space will provide a home environment whilst creating a network of support amongst staff and residents, which continues long after residents have moved on to independent living outwith the home. Pathways is a campus based setting comprising of 3 buildings, two residential and one main house, on the grounds of the former Tureen Street Primary, Glasgow. The campus like setting has been inspired by the architecture of a traditional tenement building, which helped foster the sense of community synonymous with pre war Glasgow tenements.
Having broadened the definition of what is meant by a care leaver to include younger individuals aged 15-16 who are still under the guardianship of the state, but are on the cusp of independent living, it begins the process of preparing young people within care for life after it and seeks ultimately offer a route through and out of care which is both gradual and supportive, in order to avoid the care cliff drop that so many care leavers speak of. Residents will move into the younger building at 15, before transitioning into Rathad House as they get older. They will gradually learn the process of independent living from a network of trained support staff, all whilst living in a safe space, benefitting from the cross generational network of support provided by the campus. Younger residents benefit from the wisdom of those currently experiencing independent living, whilst the older residents experience independence but as part of a community, preventing isolation and loneliness experienced by so many care leavers post care.
Young people growing up in care often experience identity issues in adolescence and beyond resulting from the displacement and trauma of life in care, leading to feelings of a lack of self worth. Pathways seeks to create a home in the truest sense, providing a supportive and nurturing home environment which will have a positive impact on the person during those pivotal years of development, helping residents to foster a positive sense of self worth whilst providing an environment which will allow them to feel a sense of autonomy over the space allowing them to express themselves, and their identity.