Campaigner ‘disappointed’ as Ipswich Foyer housing scheme for young people to close in March

The Ipswich Foyer in Star Lane.

The Ipswich Foyer in Star Lane. - Credit: Su Anderson

A centre that has acted as a lifeline for vulnerable young people in Ipswich for 20 years is to close at the end of March.

Centra has failed to win a new funding contract from Suffolk County Council (SCC) to keep the Foyer, in Star Lane, running.

From April YMCA Suffolk and Orwell Housing Association will deliver housing-related support services for young people across the county.

Becki Bunn, who started a petition to save the hostel, said she was “really disappointed” that SCC had not reinvested in the Foyer.

At the age of 17 Miss Bunn lived at the Foyer for six months, enabling her to stay in education and finish her A-Levels.

The now 26-year-old said she hoped the same level of care would be available in the future for young people who find themselves with no where else to turn.

“It’s a great shame that they [SCC] don’t think it’s a service worth their funding,” she added.

“If the young and vulnerable people of Ipswich aren’t a high priority, I’d like to know what supersedes them.”

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The Foyer provided up to two years of supported housing to people aged between 16 and 24.

In May last year Centra announced plans to shut the Foyer in 2017 as it was struggling financially and the building was in need of extensive repairs.

Thousands of people made their views heard either through Centra’s public consultation or by signing Miss Bunn’s petition, which attracted almost 3,000 signatures.

Centra offered supporters a ray of hope in November as it pledged to keep the site open, if it is successful in its contract bid.

However this month it sent a letter to Foyer residents, seen by the Ipswich Star, breaking the bad news.

John Turk, director of Centra, said: “Our priority now is the wellbeing of the young people who are still living at the Foyer and their smooth transfer to new service providers and new accommodation.

“We are already working closely with the new providers and SCC to manage the transition, and will continue to do so until the end of March, after which point services will be delivered by them.”

A SCC spokesman said it carried out a “fair and competitive procurement process” to award funding to housing-related support providers, and Centra was unsuccessful.