About Bardsley Youth project
The young people we work with are among the most vulnerable in Coventry. Lack of adult support is common leading to chaotic lifestyles. Serial homelessness is a feature with ‘sofa surfing’ at friends’ houses hiding the true extent of the problem and limiting access to statutory support. For some of our young people we are regarded as ‘home’, the only place they feel part of and loved and cared for.
The young people ‘opt in’ to use our services and engage as much or as little as they choose. Activities offered are changed regularly following consultation with the young people each term, as are the support services we offer.
Although we have only been a separate charity since 2013, the work at Bardsley House has been established for nearly twenty years. The founder noticed the number of young people with nowhere to go in Coventry city centre and decided to reach out and provide a safe and supportive environment for them in the city. Holy Trinity Church and Coventry Cathedral became involved, and the project was run for many years by Coventry Cathedral who gave the use of Bardsley House and employed the leader. The Cathedral continues to support us by donating the use of Bardsley House, paying utility bills and maintaining the building.
How did BYP evolve from youth work into homelessness prevention and support?
In the Summer and Autumn of 2014, we noticed a significant increase in young people coming to us who were struggling with homelessness. We decided to respond but didn’t know what would be the best thing to do. With Urban Hope, a pioneer Church of England Church whom we work closely with, we received a grant from the Together Fund to produce a report about the situation in Coventry and what gaps in provision there were.
Three areas were identified:
Follow-on accommodation after supported accommodation
The Church and Bardsley Youth Project decided we would like to pursue all three options, starting with the Homelessness Hub.
This was a natural progression of our existing work. Bardsley Youth Project was already set up to support young people in a holistic way, pulling together many needs and adapting support to each individual.
An award from the Christian Initiative Trust of £20,000 in 2015 paid for our first year, setting us on our way. A further three years funding from Jumping Through Hoops via Heart of England Community Foundation has established the project.
In 2015, we restructured and put our homeless prevention and support work at the heart of what we do - as this is when we started the homelessness.
We closed the last of our traditional youth work in 2019, focusing on youth homelessness prevention and support.
Where are we now?
In 2020-21 1657 young people in Coventry approached the council homelessness services. 71% of young people who did so were not supported into housing. At BYP we bridge that gap, working to remove any barriers that stop young people from getting a home, equipping it and keeping it.
What are BYP's hopes for the future?
In the future we would like to have emergency accommodation as there is currently none for under 25s in Coventry and affordable accommodation for young people who are homeless and working and cannot afford the rent at a hostel without access to benefits.