YMCA hostels to be shut down

The County Council's announced it's closing YMCA youth hostels in Kettering and Northampton as they're too 'expensive' to run.

At the moment, the YMCA is contracted by Northamptonshire County Council to offer supported housing for young people, but from March 2011 that will change.

Instead, the County Council will work with Northampton and Kettering Borough Council's to help homeless 16 - 25 year olds to live in their own homes.

But the changes have angered both youth workers and young people living in the hostels, who say youngsters wouldn't have access to the 24 hour professional support they need if they live on their own.

Peter Storey's Chief Executive of Northamptonshire YMCA, he said:

"There's a strong likelihood that many young people would exhibit far more problems in that type of housing environment than they would in a hostel environment where they have 24 hour support.

The boredom factor of being behind closed doors, of not having continual support, means that either they can get up to more mischief, be subject to more problems such as bullying and abuse and they may get involved in anti-social behaviour.

This all has a much bigger cost on the social services, on the police and the other support mechanisms in the community. Things like drug agencies, alcohol agencies, which we work very closely with, they're all going to see a lot more people come to them."

18 year old Kerry James went to the YMCA hostel in Derngate, Northampton after she fell out with her family. She said:

"When I first moved into the hostel I knew that I couldn't have coped by myself, I mean some of us in the hostels self harm, some of us are highly addicted to drugs, some of us are alcoholics, there's individual things that we need help with.

The younger generation, they won't have anywhere to go if they're homeless, prostitution may occur, premature deaths because of hunger.

The staff at the hostels are so supportive, they're there 24 hours a day, you can speak to them whenever, if people live in their own flats they're not going to have that and that's worrying."

Councillor Robin Brown, cabinet member for health and adult social services said:

“We are committed to ensuring continuity of support for the young people who are moving on from current services and will ensure they are fully supported throughout the process and beyond.

Vulnerable young people need a decent, safe place to live as well as a high-quality support service whilst also being good value for money.  This new model will see resources focused on delivering services to young people to make a real difference to their lives and help them to make a successful transition to independence, rather than spending money on running expensive hostels.”