Business Minister hails “brilliant idea” to boost opportunities for Stranraer youngsters

L-R Jamie Hepburn, Brian Pattinson (convenor of Loreburn Housing Association management committee), Carol Turnbull (principal, Dumfries & Galloway College), Lorraine Usher (Loreburn CEO)

LOREBURN Housing Association (LHA) has welcomed Jamie Hepburn, the Scottish Government’s Minister for Business, Fair Work and Skills, to hear about their Youth Foyer project, which provides opportunities to improve the lives of young people in the area.

Stranraer is one of the most deprived areas of Scotland, with 16% of school leavers unemployed – double the national average.

LHA said Youth Foyers provide safe and secure housing, support and training for young people. The project, which is a first for Dumfries and Galloway, gained planning permission earlier this year and is expected to be complete in early 2020 on the site of the former Garrick Hospital.

The Youth Foyer will cater for twelve 16-25-year-olds deemed to be at risk of homelessness. The project will provide a stable environment and support from trained staff. The youngsters will have access to education, training and employment pathways and volunteering options.

The proposals for the Garrick Hospital site, which were designed by Aitken Turnbull Architects, will also see the creation of eight one-bed and four two-bed “extra care” dementia-friendly homes alongside the Youth Foyer.

Lorraine Usher, chief executive at Loreburn Housing Association said, “We were delighted to welcome Jamie Hepburn to our employer event encouraging businesses in the area to support this innovative project. This shared space project provides employers with an opportunity to work with talented young people locally while supporting and making a huge difference to the life chances of these individuals. The Foyer will be there to give a helping hand to young people who are motivated to study or work, and the young people living there will be expected to make a positive contribution to their local communities. All youngsters must be either working, studying or volunteering.

“Loreburn is committed to creating great places to live and great communities for all. As the Foyer will be located right beside the dementia specific accommodation, it will also offer opportunities for intergenerational projects that involve both the young people and older people. This will help reduce social isolation in older people and increase civic participation for young people. Loreburn already has a successful track record of bringing younger and older people together through projects like the Galloway Gateway.”

Jamie Hepburn MSP added, “This Youth Foyer is a brilliant idea which benefits everyone involved, including the employers. Organisations willing to support this will get a chance to work with young people in the area with a wide range of skills. Importantly these employers could make a massive impact on the lives of these young people, not just now but for the rest of their lives.”