After Council I popped along to the Launceston Foyer for their seventh annual open day. The Foyer is a fantastic resource for young people aged between 16 and 25 who are homeless or vulnerably housed. The Foyer provides housing and learning - getting young people ready to live on their own.
There are a number of foyers across Devon and Cornwall and the Launceston version is the smallest of these with five beds. At the moment only four are filled but it seems like they never stay that way for long as there are five people applying for each vacancy. There are lots of agencies that can (and do) refer people to the service and it was explained to me that some of the toughest decisions are who to take and who not to.
I met Lynn, the Chair of the project, as well as Justin, the centre manager and people from the sister foyer in Bodmin. But the star of the show for me was Ashley who lives there and showed me round.
One of the terrible realities of any facility like this is finance. The foyer is 'owned' by the Devon and Cornwall Housing Association and most of the funding comes from the Supporting People fund. Residents either pay rent or claim housing benefit if they are entitled and so this forms the other core strand of the funding. But DCHA cannot afford to support the cost of the foyer and the supporting people funding is very vulnerable.
But this is only the start of the funding merry-go-round.
For anything other than the absolute basics, the foyer needs to apply for a special grant. Want to create a garden? They need to apply for a grant and get help from the Community Service Volunteers. New armchairs? Apply for a grant.
One thing where I am determined to get some help is with computers. The foyer has a computer room which has five machines in it. The problem is that all are more than five years old and none work any longer. You need to have computer access to write a job application and to search for work and training. You need a computer to do coursework if you are studying. You also need computers to enjoy a normal life as a young person - everything from games to facebook.
So the foyer desperately needs replacements for the defunct machines. These machines don't necessarily have to be new - just in working order and able to run the current round of programmes at a reasonable speed. I reckon that there are many businesses in the local area who replace their computers on a regular basis - maybe every 18 months or so. So I'll be writing to a range of firms asking if this is the case and whether they would be willing to donate one or more machines to such a worthy cause.
If you know of any such machines which could be used by the Foyer, give me a bell on 07984 644138 or email firstname.lastname@example.org