Rebecca Rose, 23, who was left homeless as a teenager makes impassioned plea to save Ipswich Foyer

Rebecca Rose ,23, was helped by the Foyer in Ipswich when she became homeless at 17.

Rebecca Rose ,23, was helped by the Foyer in Ipswich when she became homeless at 17. - Credit: Sarah Lucy brown

Closing Ipswich Foyer would be a disaster for vulnerable young people in the town according to former resident Rebecca Rose who lived there for two years after becoming homeless as a teenager.

Ms Rose said the support and help the Foyer had given her was invaluable at the darkest point in her life. It helped her to gain her independence and to start work and find her own home.

She said: “No one chooses to go and live at the Foyer, but for those who are there it is absolutely vital. I am sure it has literally saved lives.”

She knows someone who recently had to move there – and said her friend was now getting the kind of support she had, although it is not clear how long the support would last.

The Foyer is owned and operated by Circle Housing Wherry which has warned residents it is facing a funding cutback of 30% from Suffolk County Council and it cannot afford to upgrade the building.

The council was unable to comment on the situation because it was one of the bodies taking part in a consultation on the future of the Foyer which is taking place until the end of July.

But the reasons for the threat are of little concern to the residents who fear losing the home and support they have come to rely on.

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This is Ms Rose’s story, in her own words: “In September 2011, now almost five years ago, I was unexpectedly made homeless.

“I don’t know what I did wrong – to this day I haven’t asked, but I was only 17 and receiving the phone call telling me I no longer had a place to call home was the most terrifying experience of my life.

“Soon I’m turning 23, and in the time that’s passed I’ve managed to turn my life around.

“Without somewhere safe to take me in and offer me support I honestly don’t think I would be here today. I now have a full time job which I love, as well as my own flat.

“I’ve also just completed my first year of a part time degree in English literature and creative writing. The Foyer accepting me was the first step on this path.

“Most people can’t appreciate the fear caused by not having anywhere to go. Take it from me, spending a night out on the streets is not a pleasant experience.

“Living at the Foyer wasn’t the best part on my life, I won’t lie about that, but without it I wouldn’t have been able to continue to go to college.

“I wouldn’t have had a roof over my head. On Christmas Day when I woke up alone in the Foyer I was bought a roast dinner by a staff member who didn’t want me to go without.

“Just one example of a small act of kindness that I will never forget and would not have had if the Foyer wasn’t there to support me.

“Some of the people I lived with saved my life when I hit rock bottom, and I know the staff there run themselves into the ground trying to support the young people who walk through their doors.

“It is not a building any young person chooses to enter, but it is a building that saves the lives, and the futures, of many.

“I sincerely hope this building will not be forced to close. It costs comparatively little to keep it open, but to close it down will cost lives.”

A petition has been launched to save the Foyer by another former resident Becki Bunn and already more than 1,500 signatures. Find the petition here