Wera Hobhouse recently visited the YMCA's Platform For Life programme to find out more about the initiatives in the city that are working to combat homelessness...
Wera Hobhouse said: "Following on from my Homelessness Conference in November, I wanted to understand more about how our different agencies work together to keep young people off the streets. The recent rough sleeper count identified 20 individuals rough sleeping, the youngest of whom was 24 years old. Behind this number, there are many people who are at risk of homelessness, often with unmet, complex support needs. There are however a number of specific supported housing solutions in Bath and North East Somerset that can prepare vulnerable people for independence and prevent them from becoming homeless."
I recently visited a house run as part of the Platform for Life scheme, funded by the Council and managed by the YMCA. Platform for Life provides shared housing and support for young people as they approach their adult lives and often as they move forward from some particularly harrowing experiences. I met two young women who are an inspiration, in terms of turning their lives around, from attempted suicide, to being in work and planning for a much brighter future."
Chrissy (not her real name) was telling me that she had been in and out of care all her life, been sectioned, and been trouble in general. At 18, she was given her own flat, but struggled to live on her own because she did not have appropriate support. In the end she left. Although she had spent a few nights on the streets, she avoided becoming a rough sleeper, and eventually came to Platform for Life, via the Pathways Scheme. She is now working, and planning on going to University next year.
Liz (not her real name) had fled violence elsewhere in the UK, suffering from depression, and had ended up in Bath. She has turned her life around and is now planning to train as a social worker. She said to me that she feels that she is where she is supposed to be, and that the stable environment really was giving her a platform from which to begin again.
Mike Chedzoy, Housing Services Manager, B&NES said: "Many young people are not ready or don’t want to live independently at the age of 18. Platform for Life provides a housing option for young people who have recently left care or accommodation with a higher level of support. Council investment in the scheme has ensured that the rents are affordable to people on low incomes.
Residents can develop independence skills and resilience, ready and able to sustain their own tenancy."
Maggie King, Deputy Chief Executive, YMCA Bath said: "There are four young people living here, for up to 2 years. We hold a house meeting once a month, to identify any areas where support might be needed. The aim is to assist young people on that last step, from often very difficult childhoods, with high levels of intervention to help them take control of their own lives. We provide the necessary stability, to allow our young people to hold down a job, learn to live with other people, and develop the skills to manage their own lives in ways that most of us take for granted."
If you have housing needs, please contact BaNES Housing Options on 01225 396296.
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