Birmingham & Black Country

West Bromwich YMCA extends Open Doors scheme

Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media captionSteven Crisp, 18, explained how he became homeless in the Black Country

A West Midlands charity has appealed for more volunteers to help host young people who are homeless in the area.

West Bromwich YMCA has piloted its Open Door project in Sandwell for more than three years and is planning to extend it throughout the Black Country.

It said about 100 young people age 16 to 25 had so far been found short-term accommodation within people's homes.

One host, Cheryl Richards, from Great Barr, said she had found the scheme challenging, but very "rewarding".

"I wanted to put something back into the community," she said. "I couldn't offer anything financially, but in terms of giving them something and empowering them I thought offering a room would be a good way."

Ms Richards, who has hosted four young people over the last three years, said it had "not all been plain sailing," and she had even had items stolen from the house.

"They come with different issues, some with emotional issues. But it's very rewarding when you see the young person develop and grow up."

She said YMCA workers were also in place to help support families.

Sofa surfing

Sixteen-year-old Thomas Edwards is one of the young people who has been helped through the scheme after a "breakdown" within his family.

"For two nights I was living on the streets and for the rest of the time I was sofa surfing with friends and at my fiance's house," he said.

Mr Edwards said living with a host family had helped him become more independent and learn to manage his money.

The scheme pioneered in West Bromwich, which focuses mainly on 16 and 17-year-olds, has been taken on by a number of other YMCAs across the country.

About 1,400 families or individuals in the West Midlands are classified as homeless, according to the charity Shelter.

Nathan Adams, from YMCA, said Open Door was "unique" because it "involves the community being the solution to the problem".

Rachael Taylor, from the charity, said they hoped to double the number of volunteers involved from 30 to 60.

She added that a preparation course was being organised for anyone thinking of joining the scheme.

More on this story

Related Internet links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites