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Junior Minister Gerry Kelly Visits Housing Scheme for young homeless people

14 November, 2007


Sinn Féin Junior Minister Gerry Kelly today visited a housing scheme for young homeless people in north Belfast.

Aimed at young people aged 16-25 the Flax Foyer in Ardoyne attempts to break the 'no home - no job - no hope' cycle by providing accommodation and training for young people who might otherwise be homeless.

Mr Kelly said:

"Leaving home is a natural transition to independence for most young people. Some, however, leave home prematurely or in difficult circumstances and they often face insurmountable obstacles in finding somewhere to live.

"Other barriers to their sense of independence can be lack of educational qualifications and employment. Foyer plays an invaluable role in providing physical shelter and helps prevent the loss of self-respect and ambition that follows.

"Their work deserves much credit and helps to address some of the government's priorities in tackling poverty. The fact it has been such a success is in no small measure a tribute to the hard work, perseverance and personality of manager Marie Fusco and her dedicated team. Without them these young people might be alienated and isolated from society."

The Flax Foyer was established in 1999 by Flax Housing Association with funding from the Department for Social Development. The accommodation has links to training, education and employment opportunities to assist the young people to become socially and economically active citizens.

NOTES TO EDITORS:

  1. Flax Housing Association is one of 38 registered housing associations in Northern Ireland. It was founded in 1987 with a view to providing affordable, quality housing for people in housing need in the Ardoyne area and has since expanded to include the Oldpark and Cliftonville areas of north Belfast.
  2. The Foyer concept, first established in France in 1951, was described as an integrated approach to meeting the needs of young people during their transition from dependence to independence by linking affordable accommodation to training and employment.
  3. There are four operational Foyers in the North of Ireland.

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