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Hundreds helped by Benjamin Foundation's Heart and Home

PUBLISHED: 14:01 04 July 2016 | UPDATED: 14:01 04 July 2016

Heart and Home  - Sarah, left with Tasha, who is being supported through the Benjamin Foundation's scheme that helps young people learn to become independant, whilst offering a caring home. Photo : Steve Adams

Heart and Home - Sarah, left with Tasha, who is being supported through the Benjamin Foundation's scheme that helps young people learn to become independant, whilst offering a caring home. Photo : Steve Adams

Copyright Archant Norfolk 2016

A loving and supportive family is something that many people take for granted.

What a host had to say

North Norfolk host Sarah has been signed up to the Heart and Home service for several years.

During that time she has looked after four young people despite holding down a full-time job.

Her latest guest is 18-year-old Tash, who moved in earlier this year in April, having lived in a children’s home.

Sarah, 48, said: “I just think that not enough people know that there is this gap in people’s lives and I think a lot of people make crude judgements.

“We have been lucky enough to have a stable upbringing and I don’t think people realise how detrimental it is to their lives to not have that.”

Sarah, who has a background in the sales industry, said she provides Tash with a bedroom, while everything else in the house is shared.

The length of time the young person stays with the host is also varied. But Sarah added: “The aim is to get them ready for independent living. But it is open-ended for Tash, there is no time frame put on this.”

Tash, who went into foster care at 13 and then to a children’s home, said: “Heart and Home is absolutely brilliant and they have helped so many kids over the years. It is great to live with a family who cares for you.”

But for hundreds of young people living across Norfolk it is something they do not have.

Over the past five years the Benjamin Foundation’s Heart and Home service has aimed to change that.

It has provided more than 100 vulnerable young people in our county with a host family to live with.

But as the demand continues to increase it is now seeking more volunteers to get involved with the scheme.

Norwich Sleep Out 2016

The Evening News has teamed up with the Benjamin Foundation to support its biggest fundraising event of the year.

The charity is hoping to challenge 150 to spend one night sleeping rough in a city car park to raise money and awareness about the issue.

The Norwich Sleep Out 2016 takes place on Friday, November 11

from 7pm to 7am in the car park

of Marsh, on Queens Road,

Norwich.

Last year a similar challenge organised by the charity raised £17,000, which has since been used to fund training and social activities for the young people it supports.

A number of local businesses

have already expressed an

interest in taking part in this year’s event.

People over the age of 18 wanting to get involved should visit www.benjaminfoundation.co.uk/sleep-out

If you are taking part, call Luke Powell on 01603 772684 or email luke.powell@archant.co.uk and we will help publicise your efforts.

Heart and Home manager Pip Yaxley said: “We now have 20 hosts countywide, with demand for this type of accommodation for vulnerable young people continuously exceeding supply.

“Heart and Home is a hugely important service for young people as it provides a warm, caring and secure base for young people who are on their journey towards becoming an adult.”

It is one of many services offered to vulnerable people across Norfolk by the Benjamin Foundation.

And money from this year’s Norwich Sleep Out 2016 will help support the scheme and the dedicated hosts.

The service was set up in January 2011 as an alternative to shared supported accommodation for 
homeless young people aged 16 to 24.

Since then it has provided more than 100 young people with a safe
and secure family environment to live in.

Mrs Yaxley said: “Many young homeless people benefit far 
more from a home environment and the support of a family or individual than from a more formal and 
independent hostel environment.

“This service can suit young people with different levels of need and the young people receive 
support with valuable life skills
from both their host and also members of staff from the Benjamin Foundation.”

The service receives referrals from children’s services for young people looking to become more independent.

It then aims to find a good match between the young person and the host, before arranging a viewing.

People who take in someone receive support payments from the charity, as well as a contribution from the person living there for utilities and living expenses.

Hosts need to be able to offer a bedroom, support and demonstrate tolerance and understanding.

For more information on the service visit www.benjaminfoundation.co.uk. Alternatively, email pip.yaxley@benjaminfoundation.co.uk or call 01603 886930

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