24 July 2015

Emma ReynoldsMP 1

We were delighted to recently receive a visit from Emma Reynolds MP (Labour, Wolverhampton North East) who is also the Shadow Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government.

Emma visited our schemes at Badger Court, Wolverhampton and at Penderford, to see first-hand the work we do and to meet some of the young people who live there. In particular discussing the impact of possible housing benefit cuts to under 21’s proposed in the recent budget.

Steve Clay, CEO for YMCA Black Country said: “It was a great pleasure to have Emma visit with us and to see her clear commitment to the Young People in this area. We appreciate her support and welcome her endorsement of the work we do, helping our residents get their lives back on-track.”

Emma Reynolds MP said: “I was delighted to visit the YMCA and meet the dedicated staff and young people to whom YMCA provide a lifeline.”

“The YMCA are providing vital accommodation to young people who have nowhere else to go. No one chooses to stay at the YMCA, but it provides many young people with a home when no other is available, whether it be through family breakdown, or other reasons. It is vital that the YMCA are able to continue providing support and mentoring to young people to get them established in their own home and with the aspirations for a steady and fulfilling career path.”

“The government have announced that they will stop giving young people housing benefit. I am deeply concerned about the impact this could have on the young people who rely on the YMCA to give them a roof over their heads and the support they need. I am calling on the government to exempt young people who find themselves homeless. A huge proportion of young people in this situation have suffered a family breakdown.”

“If funding were to be cut from the YMCA, through the removal of housing benefit for young people, I struggle to see how their residents could be adequately housed, and we will end up with a far greater problem of youth homelessness.”

“All the staff at the YMCA are doing a fantastic job, and I want to thank them and the residents for sharing their stories with me and showing me what a vital service they provide.”

Some of our residents put their strong feelings about the proposed cuts into words:

Rebecca, 18. Resident since March 2015. Currently on a work placement in a laboratory as the next step furthering her career in forensic science.

“Family breakdown is one of the most common reasons for a young person funding themselves homeless.  Housing benefit is vital to keep young adults off the street; remove it and what do you think will happen? The YMCA believe in giving young people a second chance in life. If it wasn’t for the YMCA I would have been made homeless, on the streets. I suffer with social anxiety and depression. My support worker is there when I need to talk and she helps me. I have made friends within Badger Court, that’s a big step for me when I had no friends before I came here, I have been given a second chance.

Laurren, 17. Resident since February 2015. Laurren is starting college in September to study Business.

“I am 17 years old and have been supported by the YMCA since Feb 2015. In my opinion it would be a disastrous idea to cut housing benefit for those under the age of 21. First of all, more and more young people are becoming homeless due to family difficulty and others in unavoidable circumstance. Is it really fair to put young people in a position that is unavoidable to struggle? It would affect young people in such a negative way causing multiple issues in the community! Crime rates would rise, mental health complications would increase and where would the support be?
The support offered at the YMCA is more than just a roof and a place to stay for many it is the foundation and platform of starting a new chapter and moving forward in their lives and especially in mine. I can’t stress enough how much housing benefit supports young people and how difficult it would be if it was taken away. It would affect the whole community and every aspect of society. Please consider that this is people’s lives, not just another headline in the media”

PIC2 - Emma ReynoldsMP-300