Section: Hostels & Foyers

Feature Article: The Foyer Federation

The following feature article has been provided by the Foyer Federation. It looks at the growth of the Foyer network in the UK, and at the Foyer Federation's demanding role. The article acts as an introduction to a new column to be introduced next month, which, contributed by the Foyer Federation, aims to keep readers up-to-date on developments across the Foyer network.

The Foyer Federation
By Sophie Livingstone, Head of Policy & Communications

"My budgeting has improved along with my financial awareness. I am now committed to maintaining a job with improved time keeping skills and good communication with others. I have achieved my aim..."

This statement from a young person living at the Ravenhurst Cottages Foyer in Birmingham sums up the Foyer ethos – equipping young people with the tools and confidence needed to move into independence and adulthood.

There are 130 Foyers across the UK, working with around 10,000 young people aged 16 – 25 years old, providing them with accommodation, education, training, and focused personal development over an average of nine months [per individual]. By integrating training and job search opportunities, personal support and motivation, and a place to live, Foyers provide a bridge to independent living, and a chance for young people to realise their full potential.

There are various Foyer models, ranging in size from fewer than 10 beds to well over 200 beds. Foyers can be developed as new builds or as conversions from existing projects and services.

All Foyers are independently developed and managed by local partnerships and/or housing associations, but the Foyer Federation and the Foyer Accreditation Scheme connect them all through shared values, operating principles, and a quality framework. Indeed, our newly launched Accreditation Scheme has been recognised by the ODPM as being rigorous enough to passport Foyers through the first stage of their Supporting People reviews. We have also just passed the milestone of 100 Accredited Foyers.

One of the Foyer Federation's main aims is to provide a national platform for young people living in Foyers to showcase their achievements, and express their views about the services they receive and how they think the World should look. So we are keen to ensure that Foyer residents are given as many opportunities as possible to engage in the General Election.

We teamed up with the Electoral Commission at the start of the year to encourage young people to register to vote. The production of a joint poster setting out how politics affects Foyer residents was followed by a series of lively meetings in Foyers across the country, where young people took the opportunity to question candidates, some of whom were a similar age to them, about their views and pledges.

But making sure that Foyer residents' views are heard isn't just important during election time. Our showcase at the Stormont Parliament building in March gave young people from Foyers in Northern Ireland an opportunity to address a large number of politicians and civil servants.

Another new initiative is our young people's newsletter - Foyer Voice - which provides another forum for expressing views, ideas, and creativity. We'll be following that up with Foyer Voice Live!, at the MAC theatre in Birmingham this July, where young people from Foyers across the UK will have the opportunity to showcase their talent in the arts, from music to drama to the spoken word.

Initiatives like these are only possible if there is a strong and sustainable funding base, allowing Foyers to undertake the holistic activity that produces such impressive results with young people. Cuts in Supporting People and in the budgets for Learning and Skills Councils can present Foyers with insurmountable challenges.

The Foyer Federation is working at a national and regional level to raise awareness about these cuts and the impact of cuts on young people's lives. The ODPM has just announced another decrease in homelessness figures and we are indeed grateful for the Government's support for Foyers over the past 13 years. However, the demand for Foyer beds is growing, with staff reporting young people presenting with more complex needs at a younger age.

The challenge of preventing homelessness and helping young people move onto independence is still very much in evidence, and continued long-term funding is crucial to ensuring that disadvantaged and vulnerable young people are given the opportunity to fulfil their potential.

Further information about the Foyer Federation and Foyers is available from www.foyer.net.

Housing Monthly Diary


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Reporting on May 2005

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