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Charity warns of devastating impact as Sunderland council cuts funding to vital hostels

Sunderland youth homelessness charity warns of devastating impact as city council cuts funding to vital hostels

Four hostels for Sunderland’s homeless young people are at risk of closure after Sunderland City Council announced it would not be renewing funding for the vital local services, run by the leading youth homelessness charity Centrepoint. The charity warns that the impact of the funding cuts will be devastating and leave many homeless young people with nowhere to go for the support they need.

Centrepoint was informed by letter on Monday 20 February that its funding would not be renewed. The charity, which opened its first Sunderland hostel in 2009, was awarded the contract for all the supported accommodation services for homeless young people in 2014. That contract will end on 17 July 2017.

The funding cuts risk the closure of all accommodation services for 18-25 year-olds who are not considered statutory homeless*. Freedom of Information requests by Centrepoint show that 660 young people aged 16-24 approached Sunderland City Council because they were homeless or at risk of homelessness in 2015/16. Of these just 14 were accepted as statutory homeless.

Among the four hostels at risk of closure is a specialist service for homeless young people with dependent children. Centrepoint has written to Sunderland City Council urging it to ensure that all of the young people affected by its decision secure appropriate support and accommodation before the contract ends.

Centrepoint currently works with around 800 young people across the North East each year. It provides not only a safe place to stay but also vital support for young people in tackling the physical and mental heath problems caused by homelessness and help to find a job, training or a route back into education. Despite the cuts Centrepoint will continue to run a hostel for looked after children and care leavers, and continue its prevention work with groups vulnerable to homelessness.

Martin Gill, Director of Housing and Support at Centrepoint, said: “The impact of these cuts will be devastating. Vulnerable young people – including those exposed to the dangers of rough sleeping – will be left without the support they need, putting their futures at serious risk.

“Centrepoint won’t give up on helping homeless young people in Sunderland. But that task will be much more difficult once these cuts have been implemented.

“Sunderland City Council has shown a disappointing lack of planning. Local authority budgets are under pressure across the country, but their handling of this situation has heaped unnecessary anxiety on to vulnerable young people. We urge the council to rethink its decision.”

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