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North Devon project will combat youth homelessness

09 January 2010, North Devon Gazette.

A new project aimed at preventing and resolving youth homelessness has been launched in North Devon.

The North Devon Streetwise project has been made possible following a series of grant awards totalling £60,000 for the next two years. It aims to offer support and advice for young people aged 16 and 17 years old and for care leavers up to the age of 21.

The new project will be integrated with an existing one which has been successfully run by Torridge District

Council and Barnstaple Poverty Action Group (BPAG) for nearly three years. It will mean a single service will now be created across North Devon and Torridge, with North Devon Council and Devon County Council also included in the partnership.

North Devon Council's Lead Member for Housing, Cllr Brian Moores, says: "Receiving this extra funding is fantastic news for the service and for young people across North Devon. It will allow the excellent partnership work that already exists between North Devon, Torridge and the County Council with BPAG to continue, and do even more to help those young people in need."

Devon County Council has shown its commitment to the North Devon project with a grant of £40,000 over two years. The County Council's Cabinet Member for Children and Young People's Services, Cllr Andrea Davis, says: "This is an exciting and vital project to provide help to young people who are at a difficult age and are often vulnerable and at risk of becoming homeless. Early intervention and support for young adults before the event is the most effective way of preventing the miseries of homelessness."

Torridge District Council's Lead Member for Housing, Cllr David Lausen says: "Homelessness can have a catastrophic effect on an individual's health, education, employment opportunities and overall self esteem. Some young people are particularly at risk and I am sure that this project will ensure many vulnerable people do not slip through the net and that they get vital help at a critical time."

Phil Davey, Manager of Barnstaple Poverty Action Group, says: "Preventing young people from becoming homeless is of vital importance. The funding award is not an indication of a disproportionate problem with youth homelessness in the area, but rather an indication of the level of determination the partner agencies have to keep young people safe. The decision to invest the grants to expand Streetwise is progressive and far-sighted and marks the formation of what we believe to be a highly effective partnership."

The Streetwise project is an outreach service, which means a support worker goes out to meet young people in a place that they feel comfortable with, to help them find solutions to their housing problems. If young people would like to access the help, they can contact Streetwise direct by phoning 07891 217884 or 07837 012946.