6 April 2022

YMCA East Surrey opened the doors this week to a former guest house in Horley which has been renovated into a 12-bedroom shared property for young homeless people aged 18-30.

The house will provide safe and affordable accommodation suitable for those who have some independent living skills and moderate support needs. Funding for the scheme has come from Homes England, Reigate and Banstead Borough Council, LandAid, the B&Q Foundation and C P Charitable Trust.

Ian Burks is Chief Executive of YMCA East Surrey. He says:

“The housing scheme in Horley gives us our third Move-On property in the local area and we have been striving towards the completion of this project for nearly two years. We are thrilled with what we have been able to achieve, none of which would be possible without the support of funders who have turned our hopes and plans into reality.”

“Thanks must also go to everyone who contributed to the YMCA Life Change Fund by taking on fundraising challenges or by donating, as some of that money has been used to decorate, furnish and equip the property.”

The accommodation provides a private bedroom with en-suite bathroom for each individual, plus communal facilities including a kitchen, a dining room, a sitting room and an office for staff/study area. Three self-contained bedsits with kitchenettes have direct external access. Residents may move into the property from supported housing at YMCA Hillbrook House in Redhill or may be referred by Surrey County Council or Reigate and Banstead Borough Council.

The beneficiaries of YMCA East Surrey’s housing services are young homeless people mostly aged 16-25 in East Surrey. They include rough sleepers, care leavers, refugees and asylum seekers, ex-offenders and those suffering family and relationship breakdowns or loss of tenancy.

YMCA East Surrey’s Head of Housing, Lee Fabry, says:

“Residents may be dealing with a wide range of issues including mental health difficulties, alcohol and drug abuse, discrimination due to identification as LGBT+, or have experienced trauma such as neglect and domestic abuse. Many others may have fled their home countries, leaving behind family and friends, or be struggling with the effects of the recent pandemic.”

“Our housing team offers tailored help for any issues the young people face and support them into education, training and employment. When the time comes for them to move on to independence, we will help the residents to find appropriate housing.”

YMCA East Surrey has plans to develop new schemes in other parts of Surrey and is looking for new partnerships with other boroughs and districts where there is a need for more housing for young people.

“We are determined to address the growing issue of youth homelessness,” says Ian Burks.

“YMCA East Surrey has identified the need for more housing as one of its major priorities over the next five years and we will be working with partners to actively develop more high quality and affordable accommodation with support available from our housing team.”

Charlotte Bewes, LandAid Fundraising and Projects Assistant, visited the Move-On property before the new residents arrived. She says:

“At LandAid we are committed to providing holistic support to young people who have been or are at risk of being homeless and are thrilled to have funded this Move-On accommodation project which certainly provides such fundamental support. It is wonderful to see the transformation of the space and hear about the amazing difference this safe and secure accommodation will make to the residents’ lives.”