In the face of rising homelessness nationally, Foundation, a charity working across the north of England, launched a new hub for homeless services in Scarborough, on Friday 23rd March. The hub provides a home for numerous specialist services, including a legal service, and 19 accommodation units for young homeless people, doubling the capacity previously available in the town. Robert Goodwill MP was present to officially open the hub alongside Foundation’s Chief Executive, Maggie Jones, and customers from the North Yorkshire Young People’s Pathway, the key service providing support for young homeless people.

The development of Mercury House has been a major 12 month undertaking bringing an historic building, once home to the Scarborough Press, back to use in the centre of Scarborough for the benefit of the community. It is the result of an innovative partnership between Foundation, as a charity and housing association, and a private developer Mr Garry Leddon, who has supported the charity every step of the way in its ambitions to tackle and prevent homelessness in Scarborough.

© Sam Toolsie 2018 © Sam Toolsie 2018

The accommodation units at Mercury House form part of the North Yorkshire Young People’s Pathway, a service funded by North Yorkshire County Council and delivered by Foundation. The service comprises of two pathways: Pathway 1 supports young people dealing with the threat of homelessness. As the primary factor for 22-25 year olds becoming homeless is due to family related issues and relationship breakdown, family mediation forms a key part of this service. 113 young people accessed Pathway 1 in the last quarter, looking for support with housing related issues. Pathway 2 is the accommodation pathway for young people with more complex needs, with 110 young people coming through the service in 2017/18. Pathways 1 and 2 had a 99% success rate in preventing homelessness for young people they supported in Scarborough in the last quarter, keeping them in accommodation and off the streets.

Adult services at the hub include a resettlement service for offenders and Making Safe, which tackles domestic abuse in the community. These services combined have delivered supported housing to 83 adults in the last year with 85% of those supported refraining from reoffending.

Alongside a therapeutic service helping children who have witnessed domestic abuse and a specialist housing legal service, the hub provides a one stop shop in the centre of Scarborough for people from all walks of life to get help and prevent homelessness.

© Sam Toolsie 2018 © Sam Toolsie 2018

The launch event attracted over 200 attendees from numerous local services and partner organisations as well as members of the public. Launching the hub was Robert Goodwill MP, who said of Foundation and Mercury House, “This is not so much about bricks and mortar as it is about people. Foundation are helping families and individuals break the cycle around homelessness and offering a fresh start. You are all making a difference.”

Foundation’s core values include inclusion and empowerment, with customers taking a key role in the launch event, leading a tour of the hostel facility and sharing their own stories. Adam Cook, 21, has been supported by Foundation since 2014. He remembers joining the service in their previous smaller property, sharing his experience of moving with the service into the larger, purpose build facility in Mercury House; “Being in Mercury House allowed me to become more independent, because it was bigger and there is more on offer to help me learn how to look after myself. I have learned how to shop and cook healthy meals, I’ve sorted out my debt and I now live in my own place and have a job. I’m doing well and that’s thanks to the staff at Mercury House and how they motivated me.”

© Sam Toolsie 2018 © Sam Toolsie 2018

Foundation’s CEO, Maggie Jones commented that the new facility will allow Foundation to take their homeless prevention services to the next level, providing a positive impact for the community in Scarborough. She thanked partners and colleagues from across Scarborough and Ryedale for lending their support with such a huge turnout, creating an atmosphere of celebration and a positive outlook for the future in Scarborough.

Photography by Toolsie Photogrpahy