CLITHEROE’S growing problem of homeless teenagers and young adults is to be tackled in a pioneering scheme that will give them a roof over their heads.
A two-bedroomed terraced house has been bought in the town by a charity to provide somewhere to live for young people between the ages of 16 and 24 while they get their lives back on track.
Initiated by St James Church, Clitheroe, the project is supported by Clitheroe Christians in Partnership, Blackburn YMCA and Ribble Valley Council housing needs register.
Mrs Jill Ivison of St James Church, said: “It may surprise people, but Clitheroe does have a problem with growing numbers of homeless young people.
“We are talking about young people who may find themselves without a home through circumstances they have no control over such as their parents separating or a parent remarrying. They may have fallen out with their families and living on a friend’s sofa.
“This means they have nowhere to call home and there are a lot of young people in this town who find themselves in that situation.”
The Castlegate project home will provide supported living for young people and can house up to two at a time.
Through the scheme the young people, who will have to be referred through various agencies, will be given help, advice and guidance on how to get their lives back on track. Practical help in sorting out education, finding a job and looking at what benefits they may be entitled to will also be available.
Mrs Ivison said the provision of supported accommodation in Clitheroe for homeless young people was a “long held vision” for her.
She added: “I’m so grateful for the generosity, support, expertise and hard work of local Christians over the last couple of years as we have been working out how to make the dream a reality.
“I am confident the Castlegate Project will make a real different to the lives of young people in the town. The first house is now ready and we envisage having more in the future.”
The project was praised by the former Burnley MP Mr Peter Pike, who was a driving force in the creation of the Emmaus Housing scheme for homeless young people in his own town.
He witnessed firsthand Clitheroe’s problem with homeless young people when he attended a dinner in the town and saw a teenage girl sleeping rough on the steps of a church.
Mr Pike told the Advertiser and Times: “Clitheroe would appear to be an affluent area, but like anywhere else it has a problem with homeless young people – and that problem is set to increase as proposed changes in housing benefits are brought in. There is a definite need for the Castlegate Project.”
A spokesman for Ribble Valley Borough Council said the Castlegate Project was a welcome addition to the seven bed unit it ran in Whalley.
The spokesman told us: “Our statistics show that there are no rough sleepers in any area of the Ribble Valley. We would ask that if anyone does see a young person – or anyone – sleeping rough to report it to us.”