A new accommodation block for young homeless Borderers, or those at risk of not having a roof over their head, has been opened in Hawick, writes Sandy Neil.
Trinity House is a council-owned former residential home which has been upgraded to provide four self-contained flats with staff facilities to support up to 20 young people each year as part of a managed stepping-stone approach towards independent living.
Residents will be given support to move from a housing crisis into the flats for a transitional period until they are able to settle into their own homes.
The Trinity House service will target those young people who may have been put out of, or left, the family home as a result of relationship breakdown, violence, substance abuse or conflict.
As well as general housing support, the service will give training in homemaking skills, citizenship and community awareness, money matters, healthy living, environmental awareness and recycling, help with benefits and access to employment and further training opportunities.
For young people who are at risk of homelessness due to family tensions, the service will also offer short-term and respite accommodation to allow mediation to avoid situations deteriorating further, and to either avoid them becoming homelessness altogether or to help families plan for the young person leaving the family home in a more supportive and structured way.
A concierge service with CCTV assistance will be available in order to improve security and to assist the young people to develop their gatekeeping skills. Scottish Borders Council’s homelessness prevention service will work with local provider Penumbra on the project.
Councillor Ron Smith, the local authority’s executive member for children and strategic services (social work), opened the new service, saying: “I welcome this initiative as focusing on young people at what could be a vulnerable time in their lives. Hopefully, Trinity House can be a springboard for them as they move towards independent living, but will also provide a safety net if things go wrong.”
Social work director Andrew Lowe added: “We now have two years of experience in providing this kind of service in Galashiels for young people who were looked after by the council and I am very pleased that we can now offer a similar service in Hawick for a wider population of young adults as they make the transition to independence.”
Also present at the opening was Janine Marshall, a young person currently being supported by the homelessness team in Kelso.
Speaking about the potential of the new service, she said: “This will be so beneficial for young people who find themselves facing homelessness. The flats are light, airy and well equipped, but it’s the support and help that will be available that’s maybe even more important.
“There is so much to learn about living on your own, so having staff on hand with advice about running a flat, applying for benefits, managing a budget, shopping and getting value for money – all those everyday, simple things – will be so helpful when they are learning how to be independent.”