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Closure of Ipswich Foyer averted due to community protest

PUBLISHED: 17:52 16 November 2016 | UPDATED: 17:52 16 November 2016

The Ipswich Foyer in Star Lane.

The Ipswich Foyer in Star Lane.

Petitioners have forced housing bosses to make a u-turn over plans to close a supported accommodation for young people in Ipswich.

Circle Housing had proposed to shut the Foyer in Star Lane due to a cutback in funding and the need for expensive repairs to the building.

But the company has today announced its pledge to keep the site open after news of the potential closure was met by a wave of protest from the Ipswich community.

Circle Housing has put in a bid with Suffolk County Council for funding to continue running the Foyer service beyond April next year.

A spokeswoman for Circle Housing said: “After hearing feedback from residents and local people it is clear how many people value the service we offer at the Foyer, which makes such a huge impact on the life chances of the young people we work with.

“We now hope our bid with Suffolk County Council for funding to continue running the service is successful.”

The decision follows a 12-week public consultation run by Circle Housing, which received responses from past and current service users, Suffolk residents and businesses.

Campaigners also took matters into their own hands to make their views heard.

Hundreds of people supported a Facebook group named Save the FOYER for Ipswich, which was launched to raise awareness of the threat to the centre.

Former resident Becki Bunn also created an online petition against the closure and it collected more than 2,800 signatures.

Miss Bunn said: “We were so overwhelmed by the response the petition received; and are delighted that Circle Housing have listened to the feedback from our community.”

Circle Housing’s partner Centra currently delivers the Foyer service, and its existing contract ends in March 2017.

Suffolk County Council is now running a tender process for providers to bid to offer an accommodation-based support service for young people from April 2017 onwards.

If Centra is successful in this process then the Foyer will remain open. The Foyer opened in 1997 and offers up to two years’ accommodation to single homeless people aged between 16 and 24 and gives them support to help them turn their lives around.

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