A young woman who says she was kept off the streets by the Chichester Foyer has spoken of her shock that it will close.
Bethan Norrell, 24, fears the closure of the home for vulnerable 16 to 25 year olds will lead to more young homeless people on the streets of Chichester.
Bethan said: “There’s people who have come from abusive homes, people who come from foster care, people who have drug and alcohol issues.
“All of those people who don’t have family to support them don’t have anywhere else to turn.
“The Foyer is that in between place that helps you out and gets people on the housing register.”
Bethan was in foster care from the age of ten to 17 before living at the Chichester Foyer for around 18 months.
She said: “I was a care leaver and I went straight from care into the Foyer, it was a step between foster care and going into my own flat.
“So it taught me all the skills I needed to be able to live on my own afterwards.
“Without it I could have (ended on the streets) because there’s nowhere for people to go from care.
“I don’t know what I would have done, I think I would probably have been on the streets or had to wait in foster care until they found something else for me.”
The Chichester Foyer has room for 60 vulnerable young people and is currently full, with others on a waiting list.
All of the people living there have been told they will be found alternative accommodation before it closes in December and no one will be made homeless.
However, there is concern for future generations of care leavers and those escaping abusive or difficult family situations.
Bethan said: “It’s really upsetting. The people there at the moment will be housed, but it’s the future people, the 16 to 25 year olds in the future who don’t have anywhere to go that would normally turn to The Foyer, I don’t know what they’re going to do now.”
Bethan is one of the big success stories of the Chichester Foyer.
She is currently studying vocal teaching at Chichester University and is a Liberal Democrat Chichester North candidate for the West Sussex County Council elections in May.
Together with partner and fellow Lib Dem candidate Jon Turbefield, they are members of the Four Streets Project, a voluntary group who go out each night to feed Chichester’s homeless.
Bethan said: “At the moment there’s only one under 25 year old but once the Foyer closes in December, after that I think we’ll see a lot more young people on the streets, because there is nowhere else for these people to go.”
The Foyer helped Bethan into private rental accommodation after she left, and staff there also help clients fill in job and college applications, teach IT skills and offer sexual health advice as part of a wide-rang of services.
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