A brief history of Cirencester Housing for Young People

 

During 1986 the Wilts & Glos Standard published a series of news items about homeless young people found sleeping rough in and around Cirencester. Several organisations were aware of the problem - Social Services, Cirencester Churches, Cotswold District Council and the probation service. Everybody was concerned but nobody seemed to be taking any action.The press coverage forced Cirencester to recognise that youth homelessness was not just a big city problem, it was our problem too!

 

Cirencester Housing for Young People (CHYP) was formed after a public meeting on 18 September 1986.The meeting heard that housing provision for young people did not exist locally.The rough sleepers all had problems. Some had been in care for most or part of their childhood and just could not cope alone.Others were escaping uncaring parents who had neglected or abused them. Some had lived in very overcrowded conditions and had no privacy or space of their own. They needed to escape the stress of constant family arguments, but could not find anywhere affordable to live.It seemed that although many organisations existed for young children, the teenagers and young adults they grew into did not receive continuing help and attention. A clear gap in services was identified.

 

This gap was filled by a group of local people who formed a committee and started fundraising in order to purchase a house.With some funds in place they took a giant leap of faith and used their own homes as security to take out a loan. The first CHYP house opened in Stratton, Cirencester housing 4 young people. However it soon became clear that providing accommodation alone was not enough.Care and support were also required if the charity was to work.CHYP had to try and give the help usually provided by a family. With all 4 rooms always occupied, CHYP soon found itself as a valued source of information and assistance for young people.

 

Since 2003 CHYP has been firmly established in 29/31 Querns Lane.This central location is close to all amenities and provides fully supported housing for 7 young people.The house is staffed 24 hours a day.  

 

On 31 May 2006, CHYP opened its second house close by at 26 Ashcroft Road, Cirencester.This house provides “move-on” accommodation for 4 young people and office space.  Support is still provided, but without staff living in.This property provides the opportunity for young people to live more independently and prepare for taking on a tenancy of their own. 

 

 

Over the years funding streams have come and gone and CHYP has occupied several properties in Cirencester.For many years CHYP had a third property but like many small organisations local government funding which helped towards the running of this property, was withdrawn in 2010. This gave us the opportunity to look at how the service was run and to focus on the best way forward.CHYP made a successful application to the Transition Fund - a short term grant for 2011-2012 with the specific aim of helping organisations  through a time when government funding had been removed. It enabled us to make a thorough review of our service and our working practices. Now with the future of the two properties more secure we move forward in a much stronger position, able to provide an even more professional and focused service with fully trained staff.

 

 

The Cotswolds appears beautiful and affluent.Whilst the area is very picturesque, Shelter has highlighted it as one of the most expensive parts of the country in which to live- such is the gap between property costs and average wages. Family breakdown, abuse and neglect happen everywhere end even more so during a recession hence the need for CHYP is unfortunately increasing and our service ever more vital to the local area.