FabPad logo

Fab Pad 

Fab Pad is an interior design project that supports vulnerable young people to sustain their tenancies. The project provides a chance for young people in their first tenancy or at risk of homelessness to personalise their home and make it their own.

By working with young people to build a stable home for themselves, and the provision of individualised careers development, young people are supported to progress into employment, training or education.

FabPad pic1

What are the aims and objectives?

Fab Pad aims to break the cycle of repeat homelessness amongst vulnerable young people. 

Fab Pad is an Impact Arts project. The overarching aims of Impact Arts are to:

  • Use the arts to make a positive, lasting difference to people’s lives.
  • Develop and deliver excellent arts projects tailored to clients’ needs.
  • Contribute to the social and economic regeneration of the areas in which they work.
  • Create quality employment opportunities for artists across all art forms.
  • Combine social responsibility with sound and ethical business practice. 

The Fab Pad project aims to reduce overall levels of youth homelessness and to support participants to improve their mental attitude and outlook on life, increase their aspirations, improve their self belief and build hope for the future.

Why was the project set up?

Fab Pad is based within the wider Impact Arts organisation which uses visual arts, music, drama, dance and technology to work in local communities with people of all ages. Impact Arts uses the arts as a tool for change – improving the environment, helping people to get back into work and improving quality of life.

Fab Pad, established in 1998, was set up as an innovative youth housing project working with the most vulnerable young people in Glasgow. The ‘Fab Pad concept’ is now expanding throughout Scotland. 

Who are the participants and the partners?

Fab Pad works with individuals aged between 16 and 25 years who have experienced homelessness or are at risk of losing their tenancy. In many cases this may be due to a change of circumstance; financial difficulties, family breakdown, leaving care, poor physical and/or mental health or not having the skills required to create and maintain a comfortable home environment. 

Initially based in Glasgow, Fab Pad now also works throughout the Borders, North and South Ayrshire, Edinburgh, Stirling and Renfrewshire. Fab Pad currently works with over 600 young people per year across the entire project.

“We’ve seen huge changes from tiny little improvements.”

Working in partnership with local housing associations and local authority social work and addictions teams, Fab Pad is currently funded by Inspiring Scotland and additional local funds. Referrals to the project come from a range of statutory agencies, support workers, housing officers, and self referral, and can be taken at any time.

Impact Arts regional teams, including skilled management and experienced youth and community workers have has responsibility for the development and delivery of a geographical area and provides pastoral care to participants. Fab Pad interior designers are qualified designers who work with the participant both in their own home and in the project workshop.

What does the project do?

Fab Pad supports young people, as they embark on a new housing tenancy, to personalise their living space with additional social, health and employability benefits.

Each Fab Pad participant attends local weekly workshops to create items for their home over a period of six months. The main focus of Fab Pad is to offer the participant the opportunity to work closely with an interior designer to develop their ideas, create their space and learn the skills to turn their new tenancy into a home. This provides a platform from which the young person can settle, stabilise their life and focus on developing aspirations for their future and helps the young person to take positive steps forward to secure training, educational or employment opportunities, thereby becoming a more active citizen. 

The project has six key stages:

  • an initial referral meeting;
  • a visit to the young person’s home with the interior designer to measure up and discuss ideas;
  • weekly workshops with tuition from the interior designer and time and space to make small artwork items;
  •  inspiration and shopping trips;
  • allocation of a shopping budget (£100 per participant) and graduation; and
  • presentation of a certificate and progression into other opportunities. 

The Fab Pad workshop programme is developed between participants, an interior designer and other Impact Arts tutors. The aim is to provide a mixture of design input, support to develop creative ideas and practical skills training that will help the participant turn their house into a home by creating a plan for decorating and subsequently remaking their flat. The project supports participants to do this for themselves. The activities vary according to the ideas, needs and interests of the individual participant but may include: developing a design plan for a room(s); basic wall papering, painting and tiling; creating soft furnishings, accessories and artwork; use of lighting; and furniture renovation and transformation. Within the weekly workshops the young people initially work towards creating small items, such as a piece of artwork, a clock or a cushion thereby building skills and confidence in their abilities before moving on to make larger items for their homes. A task list is drawn up by the participant and the designer covering both tasks to be completed in the workshop and tasks to be completed at home. The task list can be reviewed at any time as a reminder to the participant of what they have achieved.

“Fab Pad doesn’t do it for the participants but shows them how to do it for themselves.”

The project is provided as a free service. Participants receive basic materials, travelling expenses and lunch at each weekly workshop.  Each participant also receives £100 which they are free to spend on items of their choice for their home. Every participant receives a starter pack which includes pencils, a tape measure, colour charts, catalogues, a sketch pad, and an individual workbook. 

The project also organises and takes the young people on inspiration trips to a range of places they may not usually visit, including museums and art galleries. Further, a range of external agencies are invited to deliver short sessions at the weekly workshops covering a range of topics including cooking on a budget and debt management, to further support the young people to sustain their tenancies. This approach also keeps the project work fresh and interesting and normalises engagement with a range of services.

Towards the end of their engagement with the project, participants are also offered assistance from the Fab Pad Opportunities and Progressions Co-ordinator. They are encouraged to take positive steps towards securing training, education or employment and to become more active citizens. The Co-ordinator helps each participant to identify routes to positive destinations and assists with the creation of a CV and interview preparation if appropriate.

In what way is the approach ‘asset based’? 

Fab Pad works to empower young people by supporting them to build confidence and to develop new skills and assets. Both practical and softer skills and knowledge are created and developed. These skills can then be applied within their lives and new homes and can have a long-lasting positive impact. The project encourages young people who often have chaotic lives to make decisions and take back control of their future. 

“Every participant dictates their own participation.”

The project uses practical creative activities as a medium to build social skills and to create social networks. The project offers a new perspective on life for young people with a history of homelessness and/or substance misuse. It also provides the time and space to build relationships with other young people in similar circumstances. The project focuses on the young person and the products they create they, and not on their problems.

Workshops within the Fab Pad project are delivered in a structured manner – once per week at a set time – but are also individually tailored, responsive and adaptable to the interests and circumstances of the participant. Tutors work in a non-judgemental way which allows the young person space to adjust to commitments and accept the responsibilities of managing a new house and often a new way of life. Through the development of trusting relationships, tutors and project staff encourage participants to talk about issues affecting their lives, as well as giving practical advice about a range of other issues, such as training and work opportunities as well as homemaking. The activity and the end product are highly personal and result in something real that the participant lives with everyday and can gain a sense of pride and achievement from.

How has success been measured?

A comprehensive system of ongoing monitoring and measurement is in place using a wide variety of tools, including initial referral and engagement forms and participant summary form and workbook. Data is collected around tenancy sustainment and numbers moving onto training, volunteering and employment as well as capturing softer outcomes such as changes in self esteem and confidence levels. 

“Anchors in design of the project help negotiate chaos and chaotic lifestyles.”

Using their participant workbook, Fab Pad encourages participants to record their own personal goals and to measure their progress. The workbook serves as a written and visual record of their achievements. Samples of fabrics chosen and colours used alongside photographs of participants’ work capture their Fab Pad journey. 

External evaluation, including a social return on investment exercise, has been carried out for the North Ayrshire Fab Pad programme. The exercise reported that for every £1 that has been invested in the North Ayrshire Fab Pad project a social return on investment of £8.38 has been realised. The evaluation demonstrated substantial cost benefits as well as the soft, more human success of the project.

The project is currently working on establishing a follow up system for Fab Pad leavers to determine post twelve month destination and success. 

What are the strengths and challenges? 

Fab Pad has expanded across Scotland as it has proven to be a successful way of engaging some of the hardest to reach young people who are at risk of homelessness. The project is an effective way of breaking the repeat cycle of homelessness and helping progress young people who are living in, or moving to, a new tenancy. Of the young people engaged with the project, around 50% move on to positive opportunities (education, volunteering or employment) while over 95% successfully sustain their tenancies for more than 12 months. Fab Pad is having a positive impact on youth homelessness: without enabling and empowering the young person many would walk away from their tenancies.

Through engagement with the project, participants have reported stability in their home lives and renewed family contact, increased sense of home ownership and homemaking skills, and sense of completion and achievement. Through the range of activities and opportunities provided, confidence and self esteem is increased, concentration improved and new friendships and relationships have been built.

Fab Pad has a clear project structure within which each individual makes decisions about their own involvement. The project is therefore tailored to the needs and interests of each participant. There are a number of anchors in the design of the project that make it solid and which counter-balance the disorder in the young person’s life. The project structure also balances out the person-centred nature of the approach that is responsive and reactive to the individual and makes the project deliverable and manageable. 

“If we had more we could do more – there are still ten thousand homeless presentations per year.”

Funding was identified as an ongoing challenge for the project. Fab Pad has been funded by a collection of funders in the last few years including Inspiring Scotland, The Big Lottery and Wider Role among others. As each of these funds cover specific elements of the programme, many individual Fab Pad projects have not been fully funded from any one funder however. Staff reported that the uncertainty this brings, along with the short term nature of funding, led to difficulty in planning, and that the application process for further funds could be a time consuming process.

From a personal perspective, staff expressed high levels of fulfilment and enthusiasm for the wick they do and found their involvement in the project to be rewarding. They particularly highlighted the creative role taken by the project and the benefits of taking a holistic approach to the threat of homelessness. Gratitude and positive feedback were received from the young people involved who recognise that the opportunity to personalise their homes can make a huge difference on outlook on life and hope for the future.

Relevant links to other parts of the Understanding Glasgow site:  children’s wellbeing, mindset, education, economic participation