Caring West Norfolk households sought to offer a Heart & Home

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The Benjamin Foundation is searching for households in West Norfolk who are prepared to open up their homes to a homeless young person

The Heart & Home supported lodgings service urgently needs more hosts in King’s Lynn and the surrounding area to provide a safe and supportive home for a homeless young person.

The charity is holding an open evening from 5.30pm on Thursday at Discovery Centre, Columbia Way, where people can find out more.

A Heart & Home host will be on hand to talk about what it takes to get involved.

Heart & Home provides homeless young people, who are usually aged between 16 or 17 and often looked-after children or care leavers, with a room of their own for anything between a couple of nights to a couple of years.

Families and individuals accepted as hosts receive comprehensive support and training from the foundation and play a vital role in helping these youngsters get their lives back on track.

The host also receives a support payment whilst the young person stays with them.

Quantifying the real number of homeless people in a rural county such as Norfolk is difficult but the Benjamin Foundation estimates that the figure runs into thousands.

The figure takes into account those on housing waiting lists, those living rough and the hundreds more ‘sofa-surfers’.

Many looked-after children have to leave the county each year because the shortage of placement opportunities within the county.

“Heart & Home provides a valuable alternative to our homeless centres,” said Matt Garrod, of the Benjamin Foundation. “Our supported accommodation offers 24-hour staff support.

“However, some young homeless people – particularly 16 and 17 year olds – benefit far more from a home environment and the support of a family.

“It’s important to say that the expectations of a host family are not the same as for foster carers; these young people may only need a few weeks in a supportive, tolerant and understanding home whilst they find a flat or rectify family problems.”

Visit www.benjaminfoundation.co.uk or call Pip Yaxley on 01692 502154 for more information.