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Fond farewell to Homerton Space Project!

Chapter 1Last week, was a very sad week for fabulous charity, Chapter 1 who provides supported housing and much needed emotional support for young vulnerable people, as their Homerton Space project came to an end as they know it.

Last year we partnered with Chapter 1, working with their young residents through our Lookout London project, engaging young people in the debate around gangs, gun and knife crime.

Due to local government spending cuts, the supported housing units in Hackney are having their services combined, meaning some staff are losing their jobs and many young people are being moved from their current homes into new hostels, seperating them from staff that have become like family to them. Last week I went along to the emotional farewell, organised for the staff and service users at Chapter 1’s Homerton Space project, who are affected by these changes.

Geoff Hawkins, Chief Executive, Chapter 1 explains the situation:

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I also spoke to a few of the residents to see how they were feeling about the changes.

Luke Richards-Wolfram, Resident, had this to say:
These changes are kinda sad to be honest cos I’ve been here for almost a year now, it’s kinda like we’re losing family here, cos this place is not like most hostels, it’s creating a new family and community and stuff like that. Basically these changes are seperating everyone from each other and breaking up a family so its really sad, but in a way I suppose in life there’s always changes, so you just have to get used to it, that’s one side of it, but it’s still really sad though.”

As Luke says, change is an ineviatble part of life, but for these high risk vulnerable young people, change has always been their way of life and the Homerton Space project has been the first place to provide them with a sense of community, stability and family that they so desperately need.

Lilieth Martin, Project Director, has been at the project for 21 years:
The project’s really special, the amount of young people who have been helped in the project is unbelievable. We really push education and encourage young people to find what they’re best at and just take it as far as they can, we’ve got young people who are good solid members of their community now, teachers, social workers and I look at that and think it’s been a really special time at the project.”

One of the central themes that kept arising was their frustration that their voices hadn’t been listened to when the local authorities were making these decisions that will ultimately affect their lives.

Echoed by the sentiments of Bianca Tennant, a long term resident:

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The main concern is that these cuts are short sighted, and will result in a negative sustained impact on not only the young people of the project but of the country. Only earlier this month, was a 17-year-old boy left in a critical condition after being stabbed on a bus in West Norwood, hours later, Kwame Ofosu-Asare, 17, from Catford, was stabbed to death by two youths in Brixton and Harry Potter actor, Jamie Waylett was recently jailed for gang violence during riots.

Geoff Hawkins:
The dilemma is the quality of the support, here we’ve got a team who are based here 24/7, and yes there’s a cost to that but you’ve got to look at the outcome you achieve. You’ve got young people with high, complex needs, what’s going to happen when there aren’t people around? That’s a big issue, so you may save a few hundred quid here, but how much more are you going to end up spending in the criminal justice system, people might get into trouble here because of that lack of immediate intervention, without staff on site, seeing what’s going on and who can take action.”

Whatever the outcome, everyone here at PhotoVoice wishes the staff and young people all the best for the future, and long may the spirit of the Homerton Space Project continue! We will continue to support them throughout this transition through our Bursary Scheme, of which four of the residents are a part of, and beyond!

Clare Struthers
Projects Support

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