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Swindon teens upset after being evicted by shelter
TWO struggling teenagers at a supported hostel for young people say they face being made homeless after being given their marching orders over unpaid rent.
Declan John, 22, and Reece Bateson-Feneck, 19, accuse The Foyer, in Old Town, of failing to help them with missing benefit payments, debts, and personal problems.
The pair and their friends claim money has been put before their wellbeing and some residents are escaping punishment for far worse behaviour. Declan owes £150 and Reece £73 and they are due to be evicted on Monday after losing appeals against the decisions.
Declan, who moved in three months ago, said: “We’ve both had problems with benefits payments and bills, but no-one has listened to us, even though we are meant to have sessions with key workers. I even offered to pay off £85 a fortnight but they said it wasn’t a substantial amount.
“Other people living in The Foyer have got away with lots of warnings for things like smoking cannabis, but all they are interested in is making money. It’s unbelievable.
“The Foyer should be a last resort for 16- to 25-year-olds who have got no family, no financial support and need somewhere safe to go, but we’ve been left with no option but to join the homeless on the streets.”
Reece, who moved in two months ago, said: “I’ve been kicked out for not paying rent, but I’ve not been in receipt of benefits, so what can I do?
“It’s just pathetic and there is favouritism to some residents over others. Before I went to The Foyer I was homeless, sleeping in the Town Gardens. It sounded good, but now I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone.”
Meanwhile, a resident who lives next door to The Foyer, in Bath Road, has told how at least one teenager pelted down rubbish, paint, used condoms and food on to a roof at the back of his building.
The man, who asked not to be named, complained to the management on four separate occasions between November and this month.
The resident said: “The rubbish was being thrown out of an upper side window. A worker at a local premises even saw it happen on one occasion before Christmas. Tins of white paint exploded on the ground behind the house and plastic sacks bursting with rubbish were chucked down on to my roof and the area below. The trash included used condoms.
“They also pelted cars with fruit and cupcakes. All the residents are disgusted and fed up. I complained in person in November but the problem only got worse. Now I am going through my estate agent. The sacks have been picked up but there is still damage from the paint.
“I am keeping a log of everything that happens. It doesn’t surprise me to hear about these two young people given the management’s failure to control my neighbours.”
The Foyer provides accommodation for 57 vulnerable and homeless young people and aims to help them develop the skills they need to access education, training and employment.
Deborah Schofield, supported housing manager at Jephson Housing Association, said: “Serving a notice for a young person to leave the Foyer is always a last resort.
“We will use all the tools at our disposal to work with them for a number of weeks to ensure they have the necessary support to resolve the issues.
“If these remain unresolved then we will reluctantly serve notice to leave.
“We have also developed an appeal procedure at which point we will take into consideration any last attempts that they have taken to try and resolve the situation.
“As a not-for-profit organisation we work with residents to develop money management skills, one of the key skills required for working towards living independently.
“We very rarely issue notice based solely on arrears and would normally have identified additional contributing issues such as behaviour which is having a negative effect on other residents and the local community.
“If a young person is unable to stay at the Foyer, our staff will always offer them help to find alternative accommodation.”
She added: “We were first made aware of the issue with rubbish on the neighbouring rooftop in December.
“We inspected the problem with them, and then took action by arranging for the litter to be cleared and speaking to the Foyer resident involved.
“Following a subsequent incident of littering, where we also took swift action, we added the area to our night patrol.
“We will continue to work with the local community and residents to resolve any issues as they arise.”