Rock Trust helping young people in Perth to build their own futures

Scottish youth homelessness charity Rock Trust has launched a new project in Perth to help young people affected by or at risk of homelessness.

Rock Trust helping young people in Perth to build their own futures

The Future Builders project provides a tailored package of education and employment support alongside access to affordable tenancies, offering vulnerable young people a chance to create long-term positive change in their lives.

The Perth project is the first of its kind in Scotland, with the Future Builders model having already proven a success across England. It has been developed and funded by OVO Energy’s charity arm OVO Foundation, reflecting its commitment to tackling youth poverty. The project has also received funding through OVO Foundation’s partnership with LandAid. Perth & Kinross Council’s housing service has provided three flats for young people as part of the project, all to be done up and managed by Rock Trust.

The number of people presenting as homeless in Perth and Kinross fell overall in 2019-20, with the number of households living in temporary accommodation in March 2020 the lowest of all local authorities in Scotland. Through its Rapid Rehousing Transition Plan, this is a further example of an innovative way, that the housing service is responding to youth homelessness locally, and is also a promising sign that the efforts of the service and homelessness charities are having a tangible impact.

Across Scotland though, homelessness cases are rising. As the current pandemic places more strain on people’s jobs and finances, it is young people who are expected to be hardest hit. They are more likely to lack job security and work in the most heavily impacted sectors such as hospitality and entertainment. An entire generation of school-leavers face a drastic drop in employment prospects. New data from the Office of National Statistics has shown that across the UK there were 156,000 fewer young people in employment in the three months to July compared to the previous quarter. Projects like Future Builders are needed now more than ever.

Future Builders Perth will give 10 young people the opportunity to take part in a 12-16-week programme of education and training. They’ll learn to live independently and build up skills relevant to their personal goals and aspirations. Some of the opportunities they’ll have include; learning DIY skills for the home, building their maths and literacy skills, first aid training, and developing their CV and interview skills. They’ll also be supported to access work experience and apprenticeships.

Seven young people who have recently found themselves homeless, or who are in imminent danger of homelessness, are already benefiting from the project. Homelessness has abruptly thrown these young people into adulthood, in many cases because of relationship breakdown in the family. Three of the young people grew up in care and 1 of them is an asylum seeker who came to Scotland two years ago.

19-year-old Craig, who has joined the project, said: “Future Builders will help me learn things that I need for independent living and this will help me be more confident in the future. It will give me skills I didn’t have before and can take forward in life.”

Three of the young people involved in the project are learning how to decorate and furnish the flats provided by Perth & Kinross Council’s housing service, with the first young person due to move in this week. The other four young people have already moved into their own tenancies.

Kate Polson, CEO of Rock Trust, said about the project: “Young people need to have access to good quality affordable accommodation, especially when they take their first steps into employment. This project enables young people to take those first steps and have a safe place to call home whilst they do so. We are delighted to be able to offer this kind of support to the young people in Perth.”

Perth & Kinross Council’s convener of housing and communities, Councillor Bob Brawn, said: “This scheme will provide vital support to young people as they start out in life. It will help them build their skills and confidence, and set them up for a successful tenancy and a successful life. We are determined that young people who need this kind of assistance do not end up slipping through the cracks, which could see them facing homelessness. The current pandemic makes this scheme even more timely, and I am delighted that we have been able to support it.”

Caroline Silke, head of OVO Foundation, said: “We believe that the provision of affordable housing, in combination with training and job opportunities, can help break the cycle of homelessness and support young people on the journey to complete independence. It’s fantastic to see the scheme helping even more young people, and for the first time in Perth, following its successful growth across England.”

Paul Morrish, chief executive of LandAid, said: “LandAid is proud to be able to support OVO’s Future Builder prorgamme. LandAid’s mission to end youth homelessness in the UK can only be achieved if we find new and innovative ways to create safe, secure and affordable housing for young homeless people. Future Builders not only provides homes but also skills for young people to move forward with their lives with – a vital component to help people leave homelessness for good.”

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