The Youth Accommodation Support Project (YASP) is an invaluable service according to manager Sandra Duffy.
The organisation was set-up in 2005 and helps young people from Derry, Limavady and Strabane to find the best possible solution to their housing issues.
“The main issue that we deal with is young people who have experienced some sort of family breakdown. Many of our young people have been affected by a whole host of issues such as alcohol, domestic violence and drug abuse.”
YASP work with young people aged 16 up to the age of 25. Since 2005 they have helped 473 young people and last year alone they supported 164.
“Some of the young people we work with may come from a home where they are always arguing with their parents. Some may come from home where drug and alcohol is common place. Many of the young people are at their wits end and feel they have nowhere to turn.”
When YASP receive a referral they assist young people to the identify their options with regards to their housing situation.
Sandra explained that one of the major issues they face is to do with the fact that the vast majority of the young people they work with are on benefits.
“Many of the young people we work with don’t have jobs which means they are on benefits. Many of them are forced to survive on very little money each week and as a result they are sometimes depressed and this in turn affects their family life.
“Another big issue that we want to tackle is that of supporting young people with mental health difficulties which can have a negative impact upon their lives. If we can get young people like this the support they need then we know we are providing an invaluable service.”
If YASP support workers decide that a young person cannot return to their home they help them to find social housing.
“When necessary we will help young people to find suitable accommodation,” said Sandra. “We have quite a number of young people who we have helped to become more independent. We give them the support they need to cook, clean and look after themselves.”
Sandra went on to say that in recent years YASP have had some major success stories.
“We have helped so many young people to change their lives around,” she said.
“Some of the young people who benefit as a result of getting in contact with us stay in contact and are always telling us how they are getting on.
“We had one young person who experienced serious family breakdown. He came to us and we were able to help him get the support that he needed. He is living in Scotland and working as a chef. When he comes home he would drop in or give us a call to tell us how he’s getting on.”
Sandra explained that one of the main difficulties faced by YASP is the fact that many young people are not aware that they exist.
“We really want to get the message out there that there’s support for young people. We want them to know that if they come here we will not judge them and we will support them.
“A lot of the young people we work with tell us that the hardest step for them is coming along to the first meeting but after that they would tell you that things get easier.”
For further information on YASP or to speak to a support worker contact Sandra Duffy on 02871 371 849.