Fold Housing Association has officially opened a new accommodation complex in Lisburn which provides nine self-contained flats for vulnerable young people who are leaving care services or presenting as homeless to the Northern Ireland Housing Executive.
The property on Longstone Street in the city centre was opened today by the Minister for Communities, Paul Givan MLA and Mayor of Lisburn & Castlereagh, Cllr Brian Bloomfield MBE.
The development was built at a cost of £1.5million, with £800,000 secured through the Department for Communities and £700,000 from Fold Housing. Further funding for associated support services has been provided by the South Eastern Health and Social Care Trust and the Northern Ireland Housing Executive through its Supporting People programme.
The accommodation will be jointly managed by MACs, an organisation which was set up to work with and support young people aged 11-25. MACs will also have an office unit within the building.
Work to deliver the accommodation has been in the planning stages since 2008 when Fold purchased part of the land at Longstone Street. In 2014 the organisation purchased the two adjacent terraced houses to allow the development to proceed.
Minister Givan said: “A young person coming out of care or a young person who finds themselves homeless can often feel alone and isolated, however accommodation such as this at Longstone Street represents a haven for them.
“This modern facility provides a stepping stone for those young people who, for whatever reason, are not quite ready to live independently. Having a safe, secure and comfortable environment to reside, coupled with the support mechanisms available to them here can help build up a young person’s confidence and self-esteem before they take that next important step in their lives.”
Fiona McAnespie, Director of Care Services at Fold Housing Association, commented: “Projects like this take time, dedication and planning. We have been working with the South Eastern Health and Social Care Trust for a number of years to develop this site. In 2013, the Trust confirmed that there was a requirement within the Lisburn area for a supported scheme for young people. The very ethos of Longstone Street is to make this housing a shared space for everyone who lives and works there, where young people can feel at ease, feel safe and feel supported. This accommodation represents the very best of what can be achieved through partnerships.”
Brendan Whittle, Director of Children’s Services & Executive Director of Social Work, South Eastern HSC Trust, added: “I am delighted to see the Supported Living Scheme open for our young people. Longstone Street is an excellent example of what can be done to help make the lives of our young people in care better and give them the best chance as they start into their adult life. It is an example of what can be achieved. My congratulations go to all involved in this project.”