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30 June 2020

KEY Project expands to meet surge in demand

Youth homeless charity KEY Project has expanded its supported accommodation provision with the acquisition of seven further properties.

The seven, single occupancy, ‘fledgling’ cottages are a welcome addition to the charity’s flagship project at Askins Lodge in Hebburn and extend the range of accommodation that KEY can offer to meet the differing, and often complex, needs of young people presenting as homeless, as well of course as the number of beds.

Attached to the main 17-bed ‘hall of residence’ style block, the terraced cottages will provide a steppingstone between supported accommodation and independent living, where residents can benefit from ongoing support and the security of 24-hour staffing, until they have gained the skills and confidence to secure their own accommodation.

In keeping with all of KEY’s properties, while they are resident, young people are supported to be in education, employment, training, or undertaking voluntary work so they can move forward positively.

The first four young people to move into the cottages, include three of the longest current residents from Askins Lodge who are now ready to live more independently. Achieving this milestone, has in turn, freed up additional capacity in the main building to provide a secure home to other vulnerable young people in need.

With no let-up in demand for KEY’s services during the pandemic, as restrictions have eased the need for support remains acute; families already at breaking point have experienced immense additional pressure under lockdown and some young people have been trapped in desperate situations, subject to domestic violence, mental and physical abuse or self-harming, in dire need of safe housing, with the consequences likely to last for years to come.

KEY Project’s Executive Lead, Ross Allen, said “Askins Lodge, serving the whole of South Tyneside, has been a huge success and gone some way to addressing the shortage of accommodation for vulnerable young people in our community.”

“The need for urgent intervention was the impetus for the opening of the cottages, to ensure that during these unprecedented times, no vulnerable young person in South Tyneside was left abandoned, unable to access support. KEY has overcome numerous logistical challenges to accomplish this, which is testament to the dedication of our frontline staff.”

“With the acquisition of these cottages, we can extend our provision and help those young people with a wider range of needs, all on one site. We are now able to provide supported and semi-supported accommodation; emergency beds for those with immediate need; temporary accommodation, for up to 6 weeks, for young people in conflict with their parents and/or experiencing family breakdown while our designated mediation suite is available for use by both residents at Askins as well as for other young people and their families in the wider community.”