Hostel claims

PUBLISHED: 18:40 10 April 2008 | UPDATED: 10:50 03 July 2010

ISSUES: Morton Court House in Great Yarmouth

ISSUES: Morton Court House in Great Yarmouth

Dominic Bareham

TROUBLED youngsters staying at a Great Yarmouth hostel say residents have been forced out.

Some of the youths, who are aged as young as 17, claim they hav e- with food being locked up and lightbulbs removed.

TROUBLED youngsters staying at a Great Yarmouth hostel say residents have been forced out.

Some of the youths, who are aged as young as 17, claim they hav e- with food being locked up and lightbulbs removed.

They also alleged St Matthew's Housing Trust, which runs homes for single homeless people, was not giving them the support they needed to be able to leave the hostel and live independently.

However, the Trust's area manager for Norfolk, Juliet Waller, denied welfare was being neglected and said an investigation was taking place into the situation at the house following a complaint from a resident which had resulted in the occupants being without a full time support worker.

The main house has single rooms for nine people, but currently only two teenagers, who wished to be known only as “Nadine” and “London Charlotte”, are living there and they have been given notice to leave.

“Nadine,” 17, has been given notice to evict the premises because she has been withholding rent, having arrived in August because she has drinking problems. She said she was supposed to receive three hours help a week from the Trust's housing support workers, but was only getting one hour a month.

She told the Mercury: “When we first moved in we were told we would have meetings with staff where they would go through our support plans to see how we had improved, but the only time we get support meetings is when we complain to the area managers.”

The former Lowestoft College pupil grew up in Yarmouth. She has worked at cafes and restaurants, but failed to hold down a job because of her alcohol problems.

She said: “We are not paying our rent because we are not getting what we are paying for and what we already have they are taking away from us. They are supposed to do our shopping for us.”

She did not know where she was going to live once she had left, but said she had called another hostel Felix House in Lowestoft, but there were no rooms available.

“Charlotte,” said she also had nowhere to go once she had to leave because she was refusing to pay her £28 a week rent.

Mrs Waller said housing support workers had been drafted in from other Trust hostels to cover the shortfall on certain days of the week, while a phoneline was available to residents who were having problems.

“We have put actions in place to make sure that the residents will get all the support they require and need. We have put everything in place that we should have done,” Mrs Waller said.

With regard to the food situation, she said project workers were responsible for buying and cooking the food and would sit down to discuss the week's food requirements with residents over Sunday lunch. Any food that was locked away was stored food not needed that week.

Mrs Waller said one resident had been asked to leave because he posed a threat to the safety of staff and other occupants, which was the only reason anyone would be asked to leave, but the rest were leaving of their own accord.

She said Moreton Court House was unique among the Trust's hostels because of the high number of younger residents and there had been problems with vandalism to fixtures and fittings, although staff were not responsible for removing the lightbulbs.

Depending on their needs, new residents will start off being housed in the main section off the building and if they progress well towards leading an independent life, they can then be moved first to a group flat on the top floor at the rear and then on to one of three individual flats underneath, which is the last stage before complete independence.

Help is given to those with alcohol, drug and mental health problems, who are usually encouraged to seek help from external agencies such as Norcare which helps people with alcohol or drug problems.

Rents are tailored to the financial capabilities of the individual.

Mrs Waller said: “We have a service to provide, but we can not provide that service for nothing. They have to pay rent, but nobody is forced out of the door. We work with people as much as we can and we have procedures to back up what we do.”

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