Ipswich Foyer housing scheme for vulnerable young people under threat of closure due to ‘financial pressures’

The Ipswich Foyer in Star Lane.

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

A centre that has helped thousands of vulnerable young people in Ipswich get off the streets and back into education and work looks set to close due to a shortage of funding.

Circle Housing Wherry, which owns Ipswich Foyer, has sent a letter out to residents, seen by the Ipswich Star, claiming that it is “reluctantly” proposing to end the service due to “increasing financial pressures”.

A 12-week consultation will now be carried out for people interested in the future of the Foyer, which has 44 single rooms, to have their say before Circle Housing Wherry makes the final decision.

Ipswich Foyer opened at Richmond House in Star Lane in 1997 and offers up to two years accommodation to single homeless people aged between 16 and 24 and gives them the support they need to turn their lives around.

This includes money management training, cookery sessions, help finding long-term housing, advice on how to make benefit claims and referrals to agencies for drug and alcohol support, as well as training, education, employment and voluntary work opportunities.

One resident at the Foyer, who asked not to be named, said: “People are confused, angry and upset with many unable to be housed quickly enough if this proceeds.”

The Foyer is funded by Suffolk County Council (SCC), and a spokeswoman for Circle Housing Wherry said this funding had been cut by more than 30% in the last 18 months, with its current contract due to end in March next year.

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The letter sent out to residents by Circle Housing Wherry reads: “Ipswich Foyer provides a well-regarded and valuable support service to vulnerable young people, however funding for support services has reduced significantly over the last few years and the building is very large and expensive to run.

“Circle Housing Wherry believes that the accommodation and facilities at the Foyer are no longer of an acceptable standard for young people and the building needs significant investment.

“The income received for the Foyer is no longer covering the cost of running the service and as both rental income and funding for support are likely to reduce in the future, the financial position is likely to get worse.”

A spokesman for SCC said the decision to withdraw from the market had been proposed by Circle Housing Wherry.

The authority is unable to comment on the financial position of the Foyer because it will be asked to officially comment as part of the 12-week consultation, the spokesman added.

The Foyer is run by Centra, a not-for profit-company, which is part of Circle Housing.

John Turk, director of care and support for Centra, said: “We are committed to providing the best possible support to the young people we work with and recognise that the proposed changes to the Foyer are likely to be very unsettling.

“This is why we are holding a fully inclusive consultation to collect all the views of residents and partner agencies, to be fully considered by Circle Housing Wherry’s board before they make their final decision.”

Anyone with an interest in the Foyer is encouraged to provide their feedback by emailing: tony.long@circle.org.uk by July 31.