Borough move to help homeless teenagers

IPSWICH: Borough housing chiefs will today be told to do more to help homeless teenagers in the town.

They are expected to be told to link with the YMCA to join two innovative schemes aimed at helping teenagers with family problems to move to an independent life.

The move comes after the Evening Star heard that youth workers were concerned that not enough was being done to help troubled teenagers in the town.

In other parts of the county – in Bury St Edmunds, Waveney, and parts of Mid-Suffolk – the YMCA has rolled out two innovative schemes to help youngsters who have run away from their family homes.

Nightstop is a scheme where teenagers aged between 16 and 18 can stay with a family for up to seven days while their problems are assessed and a programme of help can be drawn up.

Sheltered lodgings can provide a stable home for a youngster for a longer period – with a family helping to support the youngster moving towards independence.

A group of families who have helped youngsters came together at the YMCA, in Norwich Road, Ipswich, on Saturday to share experiences and to try to get the scheme extended.

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Debbie Scroggins, who organises the scheme from the YMCA in Bury St Edmunds, said they felt it was important to launch these schemes in Ipswich.

She said: “This is just the kind of community we feel it would be of benefit to, but it does seem to be taking an awful long time.

“At present in Ipswich all the council seems to be able to offer is hostel accommodation or even bed and breakfast.

“That’s no good for these young people – they need help and support from a family environment. We are hoping to get a trial scheme up and running here but we do want things to move more quickly.”

Ms Scroggins said: “All the families who take part in this have to have a CRB check and care is taken to match the youngsters up with the right kind of family for them.

“The youngsters can be referred from staff at school, or from workers who bump into them on the street. There can be a thousand and one reason why teenagers feel the need to leave home – and they often need a secure place for a few days while they are sorted out with help from the authorities.”

Ipswich Council leader Liz Harsant said she had only heard about the schemes a few days earlier and would be pushing the council to move quicker towards getting the schemes up and running in the town.

And councillor with responsibility for housing Richard Pope said he would be pressing officers to see what could be done to speed things along.

n Do we do enough to help teenagers in trouble? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail