22 November 2022

YMCA East Surrey has a five-year plan to prioritise the housing needs of young people in the local area. 

With the UK currently facing a chronic housing shortage, the local charity intends to develop its accommodation offer from 69 beds to at least 100 beds to offer even more homeless people a safe, affordable place to live and support to move on to independence.

Lee Fabry, YMCA East Surrey’s Housing Manager, says: 

“We are committed to addressing the housing need across all parts of Surrey and beyond, reaching out to more people over the coming five years and working with key partners to provide county-wide solutions for our many client groups.” 

“Youth homelessness is growing – YMCA England and Wales reports that in 2019/20 288,470 people were declared homeless or threatened with homelessness, with 60,000 aged 16-24. We are determined to develop new housing projects to give young people the opportunity and support they need to build independence and succeed in life.” 

YMCA East Surrey currently has four properties in Redhill, Horley and Merstham. Over the past Financial Year, it has provided 20,485 nights of accommodation to vulnerable young people, with an average of 710 hours of support on offer to residents each month. 

Twenty-two year old Ella Payne secured a room at YMCA Hillbrook House in Redhill in May 2021. Prior to that, her home was a home-made shed in her boyfriend’s garden. 

Ella says: 

“It is no exaggeration to say that I wouldn’t still be alive if I had had to carry on living at home at that time. Getting a place at Hillbrook House gave me the opportunity to grow up, learn things I never thought I could learn and to develop my independence.” 

Ella has now progressed to one of the YMCA Move On properties. This has provided her with affordable rent and will allow her to save and budget for life beyond YMCA. 

In the period of 2021/22, Reigate and Banstead Borough Council have received 1,137 approaches for housing assistance from applicants of all ages.

YMCA East Surrey’s NextStep Private Rented Housing Project is funded by Reigate and Banstead Borough Council and Tandridge District Council.

In FY2021/22, it secured private rented accommodation for 98 individuals and families, thereby stopping them from becoming homeless. The project offers a full and free letting service and support to both tenants and landlords. 

Cllr Caroline Neame, Executive Member for Housing and Support for Reigate & Banstead Borough Council, says:  

“We have seen an increase in the number of people approaching us in housing need. Our contract with YMCA NextStep will help to reduce the number of households with children being placed in emergency accommodation and improve their housing options.” 

Jenny Hawes is Housing Projects Manager for YMCA East Surrey. She says: 

“We are facing many future challenges in the housing sector. With new legislation on the horizon, the increase in mortgage rates, the current cost of living crisis and the end of Ukrainian host involvement, to name but a few, there is more demand than ever before for safe, affordable housing.”

Kelly, 29, separated from her partner and needed to find somewhere else to live with her young son. 

“I tried to contact landlords in order to rent privately, but as soon as I said I was a single parent on housing benefit I was turned down. I think I enquired about 20 properties and I got 2 viewings.” 

After contacting the council, Kelly was referred to NextStep who managed to find a private rental property for her in Redhill. 

“The care that the NextStep team have given me has been fantastic. They were there on my moving-in day and have helped me fill in Council Tax Reduction forms, made home visits and phone calls to make sure that I’m settled, liaised with my landlord and helped me get my bills on track.” 

“I’ve now got myself back into part-time work. The fact that I’m happier has changed my son’s life, as well as my own.” 

More information about YMCA East Surrey’s housing offer can be found at www.ymcaeastsurrey.org.uk.