Whitehaven Foyer has been developed to provide supported housing for 19 young people alongside a resource centre for wider community use.
Foyers are projects for young people that provide “a springboard to independent living, training and work”. Foyers in Britain contain accommodation and a range of support facilities in one building. They house young people 16-25, who have been homeless or at risk of becoming homeless, who are vulnerable, lacking in life skills and who have left school with few qualifications.
Knowing the good work and positive outcomes from the Eden Foyer and seeing the need for a similar project in West Cumbria two local organisations – Howgill Family Centre & Impact Housing Association – came together and formed Whitehaven Foyer Company to develop West Cumbria’s first Foyer.
The Company purchased the YMCA building in Whitehaven. This grade two listed building, though in a dilapidated state, had tremendous potential, in terms of size and location, to become an iconic Foyer.
The renovated main building blends the best characters of the original building with contemporary, attractive features, creating a welcoming, vibrant space.
It will be used to deliver a range of services, either developed by the Foyer or delivered by partner agencies. The building at the rear has been replaced with 15 flats providing a mix of shared and self-contained accommodation all with integrated support provided by a team of Independent Living Workers.
In exchange for accommodation and services tailored to their needs, young people entering the Foyer will be expected to actively engage in education, employment and training; address their own development and make a positive contribution to their local community.
After more than five years of development and the construction phase, the Foyer was officially opened on 10th April 2017 by HRH the Prince of Wales.
Shelly Gambles, Whitehaven Foyer Manager said, “It has been a long process bringing this fabulous old building back to life, this would not have been possible without the support of funders such as Copeland Community Fund who shared our vision and supported us through the challenges faced during the construction phase. The building now offers a safe harbour for the next generation of Young People and the support they need to move towards a more positive and productive future”.
Other funding was provided by Townscape Heritage Initiative, Britain’s Energy Coast, Garfield Weston, Francis C Scott Charitable Trust, Cumbria County Council, the Homes & Communities Agency and a number of other funders.