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116-bed hostel for young homeless to close in Southwark

 
July 21st 2015
 

Home for the next two months only...

It has been supporting vulnerable young people in South London for 19 years, but now Look Ahead’s Gateway Foyer is due to close after Southwark Council decommissioned the service.

The 116-bed hostel currently houses 94 young people aged between 16 and 25, each referred for varying reasons such as leaving care, rough sleeping and family breakdown.

In preparation for the closure, Gateway Foyer has stopped accepting referrals and Look Ahead says it is working with the council and others to ensure all residents are resettled into “alternative, appropriate accommodation” by 30 September 2015.

For some residents, like Seth, the future looks bright. “Right now me and some friends are looking for a place to stay – I’m working and I can afford it,” he says. But he’s not sure how his peers will fare. “I know the staff are obviously doing their best... but there are a lot of residents, so I don’t know. Some will probably end up going back home.”

One resident who is worried is Abdusalam, who has been at the Foyer for three years. He arrived in the UK some five years ago but is struggling to move on due to housing offers falling through and other services refusing to accept him because of a lack of local connection. “They say ‘Where you been before? Ok, you have to go there.’ They should look after me, this hostel, but they don’t care... I don’t know what can I do now. What can I do? I haven't got any family. I haven’t got any friends.”

Although more optimistic that the staff are doing their best to rehouse everyone, fellow resident Mohamed is worried about wider cuts to services, following chancellor George Osborne’s £30 billion austerity plans: “That’s going to make it harder for them [Gateway Foyer] to actually place us... I am scared of getting kicked out maybe too far from London, because I know they are trying to push people out.”

So why is the service closing anyway? Look Ahead says: “Look Ahead and Southwark Council have been in extensive discussions over the past several months in regards to the reducing demand within Southwark for the 116 units of accommodation, and the desire on behalf of both organisations to move towards a smaller, more specialist provision for young people.”

The Pavement asked Southwark Council what other provision the borough has in place for young people. It highlighted four supported housing schemes for young people aged 16–25 and a new supported housing scheme in the borough for care leavers aged 16–18. “A new scheme has also been developed which offers pre-tenancy training and is available to young people who are moving into their own council tenancies,” explained media officer Asha Budhu. “Other schemes available include: ‘Staying Put’ and floating support for young people who are in their own tenancies.”

Ms Budhu also cited plans to offer more varied accommodation for those over 16, with an emphasis upon commissioning “smaller, personalised provision meeting individual need”. We asked the council for more specific details on these new services but have not yet received this information.

We also asked whether Southwark Council would accept a duty to house all the young people at Gateway Foyer (whether or not they have a local connection)? And, if not, would some of the young people have to leave the borough? The response: “No, Southwark Council will absolutely fulfil its duty to our young people at Gateway Foyer. We will be working with other referring agencies and local authorities as required to ensure that non-Southwark people are offered appropriate support and opportunities by their host authority or referring agency.” Which suggests that ‘non-Southwark’ residents (about half of the current residents were referred in from outside the borough) could indeed find themselves relocated.

Savvas Panas, CEO of The Pilion Trust, has already noticed some of the residents being told to return to their original referrers – including The Pilion Trust’s own shelter, The Crashpad. “I rang and I said ‘You cannot be serious. Some of these kids we haven’t seen in over two years, why would they come back to us? We were crisis intervention... you must have a responsibility to rehouse as part of your contract. It’s a supportive housing scheme, you cannot be throwing them out’.”

It’s not just a safe place to stay that residents will lose, adds Mr Panas. “Gateway Foyer is a lovely project; it’s housing, with training attached, so you can only get into it if you’re prepared to go through education, apprenticeships, training… And as soon as you get your qualification, you’ll move on.” So with the closure, residents could find their training cut short. “One of our girls went for an interview at Centrepoint Southwark and they’re not prepared to recognise and transfer across the amount of time she stayed at the Gateway. They’re going ‘No, you’ll come here and start again’. So if she says no to that, and they’re saying that’s a viable offer, she’ll make herself intentionally homeless. Where in reality it isn’t a viable offer.”

Coming in conjunction with the benefit cuts for under, Mr Panas – like many – is worried at the decreasing provision for young homeless people. “The vulnerable, without families, out of care, facing abuse and sexual abuse, where is that group of young people that we work with going to go?”

 
 
 

 

Contents

New arrivals hit the streets

Soup Run Forum

Web only: Emergency Islington shelter remains open during sub-zero temperatures

Chairman of the board

Rest in peace - in memory of lost friends

Prince poses

Starter pack boost

Wearing a jacket to beg?

Teens found guilty of killing Ralph Millward

The Passage withdraws service "as a last resort"

New learning centre for Glasgow

iHobo game causes controversy

Auckland extends ban on rough sleepers

Homeless interrogation

Affordable housing development opens in Edinburgh

Who decides?

Credit unions

New counts are optional

Nobby on stage

I will never forget you, my people

London homeless services in limbo over ?Ǭ£3.28m cuts

Disused night shelter re-opened for winter months

Coventry Cyrenians forced to cut services

London hub success for new rough sleepers

Crisis Skylight in Birmingham - a year on

Residents look ahead to staff upheaval

Midland Heart report

Labour call for hefty council tax levy on empty homes

Stik pic for the American Church

Lottery grant means new opportunities

Mungo?¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢s launches women?¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢s campaign

Homeless people forced into slavery

Homeless couple marry in Australia

Number of homeless in Southend underestimated

Basic banking for all

NSNO expands into west London

Scottish homeless applications drop by 19 per cent

Miami cannibal

Invisible People film UK homeless

The demilitarised zone in North America’s drug war

2012 - the year of the right to permanent accommodation in Scotland?

Crisis at Christmas

The Pavement is recruiting

Rough sleeper donates $250 to charity

Food voucher scheme scrapped

Commemorating friends and companions

Human rights for all

First person: Gemskii on regaining control of her life

The shades come off

Upfront: spikes

Comment: Spikes are the least of your worries

Opinion: All up in smoke?

Heartbreak Hotel, episode 4.

The Pied Piper of Housing

March for the Homeless

Being homeless doesn't mean you can't vote on May 7

The vulnerability ruling

The Queen’s speech

Criminalising homelessness

116-bed hostel for young homeless to close in Southwark

Sponsor a bed and rebuild a life

Hipsters neutralise anti-homeless spikes

What the Brexit will happen now?

Anti-homelessness protesters threatened with eviction, jail by Manchester city council

Showing our impact

Rebirth

The birth of the North Gower Action Group

A pianist, an artist, a dog called George and a new homeless app

Living water

Midwinter blues?

Councils back change in law to tackle rising homelessness

Having problems with your JSA?

Mayoral hustings on homelessness

Skippering

A major step in reducing homelessness?

Liverpool Police homeless curb beggars belief

Charity begins at home?

Legal aid charade

Surviving the streets – by those who've done it

Stop the scandal

Glasgow homeless services at risk

Bill gives councils legal duty to stop homelessness

Homeless Grenfell survivors afraid of deportation

 

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