Salvation Army creates opportunity for young people to speak into funding cuts with county council leader

published on 22 Jan 2016

Young people from our residential centre in Accrington welcomed Lancashire County Council Leader Jennifer Mein and Graham Jones MP to discuss the council’s proposed cuts to Supporting People funding which currently supports the service.

The young people from Crossroads Lifehouse shared their views during a baking session* at the centre in Empress Street. The Lifehouse is within easy walking distance from Accrington town centre and offers compassionate support to single young people aged from 16 to 25 years old who are at risk of homelessness. The centre has direct-access rooms and self-contained flats for its residents and trained staff are available 24 hours a day to help with everything from benefits, to cooking or budgeting, or simply to talk.

Each young person has access to a support worker who will work alongside them as they commit to gaining independence skills, resettlement help, assistance to gain education, training or employment. There is also space to relax and build new friendships with other service users, to access the internet, watch television or play pool.

Molly, 17, said: ‘This is my home – it’s my safe place. I used to live for the day, now I’m planning for the future. When I first came here I saw how my actions were hurting people and I didn’t want that.

‘I wasn’t living before - I was existing. [Since being here] I’ve had support from other agencies, staff and residents and realised how much better I felt. Everyone saw the potential in me that I didn’t.’

Our Assistant Territorial Director for Homelessness Services (North), Malcolm Page, shared his concerns, addressing the disparity of homelessness funding and provision in Lancashire and the danger of creating a ‘postcode lottery for funding’ whereby the most vulnerable people in the county could miss out.

Mr Page said: ‘‘By intervening in someone’s formative years, we can get to the heart of issues early on and work towards preventing young people ending up on the streets and trapped in a cycle of homelessness and the more complex issues it creates. The cuts which result in short-term savings could have a negative impact on the young people we help in the long term.

‘Support services provide a level of protection to some of Lancashire’s most vulnerable young people, with The Salvation Army offering vital care as young people in Accrington experience crisis points and as they work to rebuild their lives. The proposed withdrawal of Supporting People funding could leave young people unprotected and more vulnerable to homelessness.’

Our internal reporting system indicated that in the past 12 months there was a one hundred percent successful move-on rate for the young people who accessed the service, with more than 60 per cent engaged in education, employment or volunteering opportunities.

Crossroads Lifehouse Service Manager Ishbel Cooke added: ‘The Salvation Army welcomes homeless young people into Crossroads, sometimes in the middle of the night to keep them safe. There is so much for young people to think about at that time that it’s really easy to make the wrong decisions. But Crossroads is more than a place to stay for the night. Here, young people have skilled staff working alongside them to help them identify their talents and encourage them to develop the skills to live independently. It gives them the breathing space to plan their lives, to deal with trauma, continue with education or find employment. When they are ready to move on, we hope they go on to lead happy and successful lives and less likely to continue in a cycle of homelessness. We always go that extra mile, often young people will continue to keep in touch for ongoing advice and guidance and also to let us know how well they are doing.’