Young people still not rehoused from closing down Chichester Foyer

Former Foyer resident Bethan Norrell is among those to raise concerns over its closure on December 31. ks170829-1 SUS-171004-214439008
Former Foyer resident Bethan Norrell is among those to raise concerns over its closure on December 31. ks170829-1 SUS-171004-214439008

A number of vulnerable youngsters still haven’t been rehomed from the Chichester Foyer, despite the shelter’s imminent closure.

Most of the 60, 16 to 25 year olds have been found alternative accommodation.

However, around 12 are said to still living there just days before it shuts for good on December 31.

Audrey Mitchell from owners the Home Group, said: “Our colleagues have helped the majority of residents find suitable accommodation to move on to and provided skills development support for independent living.

“However, for the small number who haven’t yet secured their new home, we continue to work closely and proactively with local agencies to support them with this.

“In the unlikely event that any of these new homes are not available by December 31, we will make appropriate arrangements to accommodate residents in the interim.”

Despite rumours the Home Group will build new housing for the elderly and disabled, the not-for-profit charity said ‘there are no firm plans for demolition or future use at this stage’.

That led Chichester city councillor Sarah Sharp to raise concerns that the building could be misused if it is left empty.

Speaking at Wednesday’s city council meeting, she said: “I’m happy that many of the 60 in there have been rehoused but from last week there were 12 still there, hopefully they will also be found homes as well.

“We all remember the Heritage Site which was empty for four or five years and had problems like rats and drug dealing. Staff told me it would be demolished and rebuilt, but now the Home Group say nothing is definite so it’s all uncertain.”

The Foyer has housed hundreds of youngsters who might otherwise be homeless since 2003, and losing it without alternative provision has prompted big future concerns.

In April, the Home Group announced it was closing, saying only being handed 12-month contracts for the last two years put the Foyer’s long-term financial certainty in doubt, while changes to Housing Benefit ‘would not allow us to provide the high level of 24/7 support we currently provide’ to young people.

Audrey Mitchell said: “We informed the local authority, residents and colleagues of our decision to no longer run the service at the beginning of the year.

“As a not for profit organisation we need to ensure that our services, and the positive impact that they have are sustainable.

“This has involved moving our focus towards long-term, holistic services that will deliver improved outcomes for people.

“A number of colleagues have already moved into new roles and we have continued to have open discussions with everyone affected, with residents responding positively to the lengthy notice period they were given.

She added: “We’re proud of the work we have done with young people in Chichester since 2003 and we will continue to look at whether there are other ways we can support local groups in the area.”