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Calls for re-think on Bridport Foyer closure
VULNERABLE youngsters have pleaded for a re-think on the shock closure of Bridport's pioneering Foyer scheme.
Stunned local politicians now want to force the authorities concerned to reconsider the move, which will see an end to the 24-hour supervised residential care and support for young adults at the Foyer. The 17 young residents currently looked after at West Rivers House in West Allington, Bridport will be moved out after the current contract ends next month.
Dorset County Council pays for the service and has awarded the contract to Bournemouth Churches Housing Association after current providers YOU Trust did not bid because of reduced funding.
Magna's head of housing, Jez Morris said it was informed in December that West Rivers House was no longer needed.
The social housing provider is now looking at its options for the building in West Allington and is willing to consider approaches from interested parties who might use the whole building in its current form.
There are 16 units in the Foyer, which opened in 1996, which will be replaced by Bournemouth Churches Housing Association (BCHA) with accommodation from social landlords and private landlords.
The authorities admit that not all of those units have yet been found, but Dorset County Council says there will be 17 places in Bridport and more in Weymouth (31 units), Dorchester (17 units) and Sherborne (six units) as well as some in Christchurch and Wareham.
Assurances have been given that those who want to stay in Bridport will be able to.
But young residents say that the Foyer has provided a lifeline for them and in many cases, saved them from a life on the streets.
A spokesman for BCHA said the youngsters will still be supported in their new homes with various different options - including a 24-hour 'I-support' scheme.
“There are a range of options available, including an intensively 24-hour staffed scheme.
Support will be provided on a visiting support basis that is needs led and outcome focused for the individual. Each person will have a designated keyworker who will be working with them to develop their independence.
“Residents will receive support based around their individual needs, including learning and personal development, with an emphasis on responsibility, skills and increasing their capacity to exercise choice and achieve greater independence in all aspects of their life. “These skills will be delivered over the course of a 20-week programme.
“Residents will also be able to access support 24 hours a day, seven days a week through BCHA's innovative technology centre - 'I-Support'.
“This flexible support solution will enable residents to contact skilled support workers when needed. “I-Support will also enhance the safety of the young people by providing new security features to their homes.”
A Dorset County Council spokesman said: “This is part of a larger service which has achieved efficiencies by changing contract terms with the provider. “YOU Trust did not re-tender for the contract, and BCHA were able to offer a larger service with an extended number of smaller housing units that better suits the needs of the residents. “Dorset County Council reviews all contract with external providers on a regular basis to ensure quality of services remain high and also achieve best value for money.”
The change leaves a huge question mark hanging over the Oh Crumbs café, which leases of part of the building runs out in August.
Magna owns the building and says it cannot make the space available for Oh Crumbs indefinitely.
It would, it said, consider approaches from other interested parties who were able to allow Oh Crumbs to remain in the building. The Oh Crumbs lease with Magna will end in August, 2013 unless another viable solution, which enables them to remain, is found. A spokesman for Dorset County Council, which has already identified the cafe building as likely to be surplus to requirements, said: “Oh Crumbs is a highly valued service, and the council is hoping to negotiate an extended lease at the Foyer with Magna.