Wednesday, February 05, 2014

A former care assistant and a retired car mechanic in human rescue.


It was when they discovered that one of their daughter’s friends had been sleeping on the floor of a garden shed that first prompted Norwich couple Cathy and Rob Robinson to find out more about the YMCA Norfolk Supported Lodgings scheme. 

Cathy, a former care assistant, and Rob, a retired car mechanic and now full-time artist have, over the last ten years, welcomed literally scores of homeless young people with nowhere else to go, into their modest city home.
“Our daughter Della told us that one of her friends was sleeping on the floor of somebody’s shed with no bedding, no blankets, no nothing,” explains Cathy. “Della was feeling bad and so we said he could come and sleep in one of our spare bedrooms for a while. It was then that we noticed an advert for the YMCA Norfolk Supported Lodgings scheme and we have not looked back since.
Rob said: “We have three spare bedrooms since our own children moved out and we love having young people around. It is fun and they help keep us young and active.”
The Robinsons provide a home and an individual bedroom for a minimum period of three months up to two years. The idea is that during that time the young people feel equipped for independent living, by experiencing a family home, budgeting, cooking, washing and feeling more confident to make positive life choices.
Rob said: “Their rooms are their own space and they are responsible for them. They look after themselves and we can have more of an equal adult relationship with them as they feel more comfortable. They let us know when they are in or out and what they are up to. We are helping to prepare them for independent living.
“We have full 24-hour support from the YMCA, so in many ways you don’t have to worry,” said Rob. “The support worker will bring the young person around to meet us first and see the room and if we think we can get on with each other. But if, very occasionally, it doesn’t work out then the support worker will sort it all out.”
So why do they do it? Cathy says: “We don’t like the idea of homeless youth and it is the feeling of satisfaction when they move out and get their own place and are doing really well - that is the real reward - though we do get paid something for doing it.”
Rob adds: “If you are living in a big house and rattling around in it, then it is ever so nice to have young people about who you can chat to and talk about all kinds of things with.  Some of them come back and visit and tell how they are getting on. One has gone on to be a hairdresser and is looking at setting up her own business, another became a care assistant and some go back to college."
Supported Lodgings Acting Manager, Grahame Sheeran said: “The young people often come from a crisis situation where they have been at risk, what our Providers offer is a safe, warm, long term secure environment, with emotional and practical support. In everything we do, the safety and welfare of young people and our Providers is paramount and the process of risk and needs assessing is thorough and restorative. It’s a crucial service that enables young people to develop their skills and experience appropriate family life. It gives young people a safe, secure platform to make positive life choices and go on to be confident, independent individuals."
If you have a spare room in your home and would be prepared to open it up to a homeless young person, you could receive up to £120 a week.
If you would like to find out more please contact; Grahame Sheeran, YMCA Norfolk Acting Manager on: 07436106534 or email: