One of our core services is Aylesbury Nightstop, an emergency host accommodation scheme for young people facing a homelessness crisis. Over the past 12 months we have received 108 referrals for 61 young people through Nightstop. Whilst Nightstop is a successful solution as a response to a young person’s immediate homelessness crisis it does not always solve the follow-on accommodation problem.
In about 50% of cases there is no next step for these young people and so they remain homeless. In most cases they are not considered priority and are not entitled to Council accommodation. Regarding private tenancies, landlords are disinclined to rent to young people on housing benefits and private rents are often unaffordable.
In 2020 we are launching our flagship youth supported accommodation and employment pathways project called ‘The Next Step’. This takes the form of a 9-bedroom house that will provide up to 20 young people per year with a safe home where they can stay for up to 12 months. Bespoke one-to-one support packages will be provided focussing on health, skills, employment and resettlement to enable a smooth transition to independent living.
Over the past 18 months we have made great progress towards raising the £1 million funds needed to deliver this exciting project and are very grateful to the Thomas Hickman’s Charity who has purchased a beautiful property in the centre of Aylesbury for £640,000 from which we can run the project. In December 2019 we secured planning permission and we have secured conversion project funding from Aylesbury Vale District Council. We have appointed Cospa/ViY who are a CIC lead to build, and they had begun converting the property into 9 bedrooms, using our young people to work on the building site and thereby providing them with skills and industry accreditation. Given the current COVID-19 pandemic and following government advice, conversion work on the property is now on-hold.
We are very much looking forward to continuing the conversion work when it is safe to do so. We hope to open this vital project later this year.
We stand apart from other youth support agencies because the support we offer is informal, flexible, responsive and designed to meet individual need at a pace which is right for each young person.
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