As our housing crisis continues unabated, YMCAs play a crucial role in making homes available to young people who find themselves homeless. But working to help people avoid ever finding themselves homeless again, throws up a huge challenge: how do you ensure residents can live independently without YMCA services?
YMCA London & South West is facing this challenge head on. The largest provider of housing for the homeless in South West London is taking on a loan from Charity Bank to reconfigure one of its buildings in Surbiton so that it will better prepare young residents for independent living.
The accommodation itself will be dramatically improved, with all bedrooms to have en-suite facilities. Bedroom windows, doors and bedroom furniture are being replaced, and bedrooms and corridors are being redecorated.
Reinventing how resident’s live; the hostel will become self-catered with shared kitchens on each floor. An accredited life-skills programme will equip residents to cook and budget for themselves.
Last year YMCA London and South West helped and housed over 500 people, many as young as 16 years old. “By reconfiguring the Surbiton property our ambition is to focus on making sure our residents can reinvent their lives and go on to live independently of our services. While the emphasis is often on the need to build more housing, it’s just as important to create living arrangements that help residents build confidence and skills for an independent life” says Richard James, chief executive of YMCA London and South West.
“YMCAs are major players in the housing crisis and they have their work cut out. We have worked with YMCA London and South West on several occasions and every time I am struck by the huge difference they make, stepping in to help young people who find themselves homeless, supporting them to gain education, training, employment and the skills they need to live.”