In 1991, The Whitehaven Youth Trust (formed in 1990) became The Whitehaven Community Trust, reflecting the widening activities of the organisation to encompass the needs of the community as a whole.
Whilst running projects that cater for the whole community, the core area of expertise lies in work with young people in particular The Supported Housing where disadvantaged, homeless young people are assisted to gain skills that enable them to progress into independent living.
Bakewell House opened in 1998 providing a service that was much needed and became so successful that the demand for places was higher than the bed spaces available.
In 2005 Lowther Street the second Supported Accommodation project opened offering a further 9 bed spaces. Both hostels are fully occupied throughout the year with a permanent waiting list due to the increasing problem of homeless young people and the recognition by agencies working with young people with complex needs that they will be supported in a safe secure environment 24 hours seven days a week.
In response to the need for additional accommodation, for young people, a building was purchased in Whitehaven in 2010 to be renovated to provide ‘Move On’ accommodation for young people that are ready for more independent living but still require ongoing support with security at night to enable them to learn how to manage a tenancy successfully.
In 2011/2012 The Trust worked hard to secure funding to convert the building into 4 self-contained semi-independent flats to accommodate 4 young people at any one time with stays of between 6 and 12 months depending upon the individual needs prior to moving to their own tenancy independently, and becoming a responsible member of the community..
Kerry Maxwell, project lead and WCT Chief Executive said “Smith House was completed in November 2013 enabling the Trust to broaden it’s portfolio, adding value and services that they are able to offer. The project has transformed the lives of local young people and will give them an incentive to achieve their own personal goals.”
Kerry added, “all of the self-contained studio flats have a kitchenette, shower room and good sized living area, which we feel is adequate to meet the needs of our young people. Since the project opened we have had a continuous rotation tenants and 3 successful planned moves. All 3 tenants left the service after securing their own tenancies with local housing associations. 2 are volunteering locally and actively seeking employment and 1 is in full time education.”
On exiting our move on accommodation, the tenants completed a short questionnaire. All feedback we received was extremely positive and WCT are confident that the service they are providing is helping to reduce the chances of young people failing their tenancies and re-presenting as homeless.
Other funding was secured from: Francis C Scott Charitable Trust and Whitehaven Community Trust’s Reserves