Opinion Former Article

Big lottery fund: Life changing support for homeless young

It’s been improving lives for 18 years, and today National Lottery funding is continuing to do just that across Yorkshire and Humber with £675,000 being shared between four community projects. The funding comes from the Big Lottery Fund’s Reaching Communities programme, which aims to help those most in need and build stronger communities.

Doncaster Housing for Young People (DHYP) receives just under £200,000 to work with homeless or potentially homeless young people, aged 16 to 25, who may have experienced family breakdown, abuse, unemployment and substance misuse. Due to their experiences the young people often suffer from poor mental health and low self-esteem. The project will help the young people to find safe, affordable accommodation, and get involved in volunteering, training and employment opportunities.

Once the young people are settled in their new accommodation they will be encouraged to attend weekly house meetings to bring up any concerns or issues they may have. Alternatively they can use DHYP’s drop in café to get advice while enjoying a free meal and drink. Informal training sessions in life skills, like planning and budgeting, will also be run in accessible community locations on an ad hoc basis, depending on the need at that time. It is estimated this project will help over 250 young people to live stable, independent lives.

Michelle Critchlow, Operations Manager of Doncaster Housing for Young People, said: “Thank you to anyone who has played the National Lottery and helped to raise money for good causes. This funding will enable us to run our Assertive Outreach Project, which will help many young people in Doncaster over the next five years to find a safe place to live, stabilise their lifestyle and live happy and independent lives.

“The project will also make a difference by helping the young people get back into learning and increase their confidence and self-esteem. The Assertive Outreach Project is vital as it is part of a holistic and well-known service that supports young people from street homelessness through to independent living.”

Also receiving funding this month is Scunthorpe and District Citizens Advice Bureau (SDCAB), which receives just under £300,000 to work with people in rural parts of North Lincolnshire experiencing poor physical and mental health due to serious financial difficulties. A project worker will run advice sessions to raise awareness of the support that’s available and assess beneficiaries to establish the best help for them. This may include specialist advice sessions, providing them with budgeting packs, or supported referral to a specialist service, such as addiction support. The project worker will also run budgeting skills workshops for those at risk of debt and a home visit service will be available to those unable to travel.

Each year 15 volunteers will be trained in giving debt advice, enabling them to provide phone advice and work with the project worker in the local community. This will also help the volunteer to improve their skills and potential employment prospects. It is estimated the project will help approximately 2,250 beneficiaries to improve their financial prospects leading to better life chances and improved mental health. In addition the project will support 75 volunteers to improve their skills and employment prospects.

Over £158,000 also goes to Groundwork North Yorkshire to transform the Gallows Close Centre in Barrowcliff, Scarborough into a popular, sustainable and locally managed youth and community centre. It is hoped this centre will run activities and provide a hub for local people that will help address problems of low confidence and self-esteem, crime and antisocial behaviour, poor educational attainment and high unemployment. The project will offer opportunities for local community members to make their views heard, become more involved in community projects and support the most vulnerable residents.

A resident-led management committee will be established to run a wide range of activities and events, including IT workshops, bike repair, job clubs, coffee mornings plus health and fitness sessions. Local groups will be encouraged to use the centre for their events and activities. Approximately 3,000 people are expected to take part in the activities during the three –year project.

Vanessa White, Big Lottery Fund’s Head of the Yorkshire and Humber region, said: “Every week National Lottery players raise over £30 million to help change people’s lives across the UK. All of the projects receiving Lottery funding today will be doing just that, reaching out to some of the most vulnerable and isolated members of their communities and showing them they are not alone. Through providing them with advice, support and new skills, these projects are helping them face a far more positive future and we are proud to be able to support them.”

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