3:39pm Monday 11th March 2013
By Rene Gerryts
YOUNGSTERS at the threatened Foyer in Bridport have started a petition to try and save it.
And resident Michael Boniface and County Councillor Karl Wallace met MP Oliver Letwin to enlist his help.
Bridport politicians are also working behind the scenes to try and keep the Foyer open.
There has also been a call for volunteers to support Foyer youngsters in the evening when they are moved into rented accommodation in the town.
Mr Boniface said the youngsters themselves were worried about moving into small units in town – and he didn’t think townspeople would be happy to have vulnerable youngsters living next door.
He said: “Do the people of Bridport want these vulnerable youngsters living next door to them?
“There is not going to be 24-hour manned staff and the intensive support that is provided at West Rivers House isn’t going to be provided in these small projects.
“We will be much more vulnerable to falling off the straight and narrow.”
He said there could be problems putting six youngsters together who could have just been released from young offender institutions or potentially have drug, mental health or anger management issues.
He added: “There will be all the pressures of other people you meet and that can make you do things you wouldn’t usually do – like anti social drinking or possibly drug taking.”
Mr Letwin said: “Obviously, we all want to see vulnerable young people brought back into the mainstream. This is desperately important -- and it can often depend on having the right help available at the right time.
“So I think we need to look carefully at whether it would be possible to build 24 hour availability of staff on site into the new arrangements. I am going to be talking to Magna about whether they could offer a reduced rent on the existing building to make this financially possible.”
Coun Wallace said the fight goes on and he had arranged a meeting with the county council next week.
“We are not accepting this laying down.”
Coun Ros Kayes met the management of Bournemouth Churches Housing Association, which is taking on the Dorset County Council contract to provide services for the Foyer’s vulnerable youngsters.
She said there was interest in the possibility of a variety of service providers sharing the Magna-owned building.
She said: “The aim is to keep some supported accommodation there and possibly some temporary homeless accommodation for young people.
“I was impressed by the professionalism, sensitivity and expertise BCHA are bringing to the issues.
“They are very aware of people’s concerns about keeping the right level of support.
“There is a lot of work going on now in the background and a hell of a lot of goodwill among service providers for keeping this facility available.”
She said they were looking at developing community support for service users during the evenings after this is withdrawn in June.
The nearest BCHA call-out team will be in Weymouth.
Volunteers will have training.
Anyone is interested please should contact Coun Kayes at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The online petition can be found at ipetitions.com/petition/youtrust-westrivers/signatures.
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