NOT only are 12 vulnerable young people about to lose their home but 11 staff at Lurgan Foyer in Mount Zion House are to lose their jobs.
Shankill (Lurgan) Community Projects (SLCP) Chairperson Tommie McCorry expressed his profound regret at the decision by the NIHE to cut funding.
He said the SLCP board were faced a difficult choice but without the appropriate funding package, staff posts to deliver this vital service could not be sustained and the service was being closed. Mr McCorry paid tribute to all Foyer staff for their dedication and commitment and for their contribution in transforming the lives of so many young people.
He explained that the Foyer is a short-term supported residential project funded by the the NIHE’s Supporting People. This funding will cease meaning staff will lose their jobs. The project caters for up to 25 young people aged 16 – 25 years who are in housing need and offers them 24 hour support in a safe and secure environment. For the last 10 years, the housing project has been managed by SLCP on behalf of its Housing Association partner, SHAC.
Mr McCorry described the housing project as a unique service. “The service gives young people the chance to realise their full potential by integrating accommodation with training, personal support and motivation. Over its 10 year period of operation, many young people have passed through the housing scheme and acquired the skills to live independent lives within their local communities.
“SLCP are working with the Northern Ireland Housing Executive, the Southern Health and Social Care Trust and other agencies to relocate the young people.” Mr McCorry said the remaining services in Mount Zion House would continue.
In addition to the housing project, the charity also offers a free advice and information service, operates a registered domiciliary care agency providing personal and practical care to people within their own homes as well as serving as a community hub for a range of other voluntary and community organisations.
A spokesperson for the NIHE said: “The Housing Executive has decided in agreement with SLCP (Shankill Lurgan Community Project) to manage out the existing service. We are now working with other stakeholders to find alternative accommodation in the area for the 12 residents.
“The Housing Executive would emphasise it is committed to ensuring each of the individuals concerned have alternative accommodation when Lurgan Foyer closes.”
On NIHE website Supporting People was introduced in Northern Ireland in April 2003. Since then the programme has represented a major investment in housing swupport services here. The overarching aim of Supporting People Strategy 2005-2010 was to commission housing support services to improve the quality of life and independence of vulnerable people.