Derwent Lodge opens in Norton to help give vulnerable people a future

Gazette & Herald: Helen Fielding, manager of HCA Leeds City region and North Yorkshire team, left, and Councillor Linda Cowling, leader of Ryedale District Council, outside Derwent Lodge Helen Fielding, manager of HCA Leeds City region and North Yorkshire team, left, and Councillor Linda Cowling, leader of Ryedale District Council, outside Derwent Lodge

A centre for vulnerable people to help get their lives back on track has opened in Ryedale.

Derwent Lodge, in Church Street, Norton, provides accommodation for up to 14 people aged 16 and over who have nowhere else suitable to live.

The centre has been developed by Ryedale District Council using a Government grant of £560,000 and the plan is to give people the skills they need to lead independent lives.

Kim Robertshaw, the district council’s housing services manager, said the funding had been secured thanks to the work of her staff.

“It was not an easy process and we had to move quickly to take advantage of the funding,” she said.

“But we felt it needed to be done because our previous accommodation was leased, had flooding problems and did not have a community space, meaning those living there had no alternative but to sit in their rooms all day.”

Mrs Robertshaw said Derwent Lodge offered supportive accommodation and was not a hotel.

“The residents don’t just live here, they are offered training and education and there is a job club every week,” she added. “We are providing a roof over their heads, but with the aim of equipping them to lead independent lives.”

Mrs Robertshaw said Derwent Lodge was staffed 24 hours a day and there were strict house rules, including a curfew and no visitors.

“Those living here are encouraged to cook and eat together and they have support workers based here,” she added.

Mrs Robertshaw said all the work had been made worthwhile when the residents from the former accommodation came to see Derwent Lodge for the first time.

“The look on their faces was amazing and we realised what we had achieved,” she said.

“This is an amazing achievement for the council to have a place like this in the area and thanks must go to the team who made it happen – they have been amazing.”

Councillor Linda Cowling, leader of the district council, said: “Derwent Lodge is a safe haven for vulnerable people who need help to get their lives back on track.

“It has been developed to ensure that vulnerable people from Ryedale can be helped and supported in times of need and ensure that they can move on with their lives.

“I am very proud of this project and know it will make a real difference to a lot of people now and in the future.”

Helen Fielding, area manager of HCA Leeds City region and North Yorkshire team, said: “The quality of this development is really excellent. It is fantastic to see the difference our investment has made for vulnerable people in Ryedale.”

Ged Walsh, Yorkshire Housing new business and development director, said: “It has been a pleasure to work on this project. I am confident Derwent Lodge will make a big difference to the lives of some of the most vulnerable people. The facilities we have created are idealto help people take positive steps forward.”

 

No streets for Luke this Christmas

FOR 24-year old Luke, this Christmas will be the first he has spent with his family in seven years.

He became homeless following the breakdown of a relationship and had spent months sleeping on friends’ sofas.

With few prospects, he decided to move back to Ryedale to be closer to his family, including his sister and mother.

“I’ve always been very independent, leaving home when I was 15 and eventually joining the Army,” Luke said. “After leaving the Army I moved to Bangor, in Northern Ireland, until my relationship broke up and I lost my house and everything.”

Arriving in Malton, he contacted Ryedale District Council and was one of the first people to move into Derwent Lodge.

Luke has his own support worker and is aiming to retake GCSE maths and English, as well as improve his IT skills.

“This is the first time I have been in this sort of environment and I don’t know where I would be without it,” he said. “I cannot say how much I appreciate the help and support I am getting.”

Luke said his fellow residents were equally supportive.

“Everyone is so nice and we all get on and cook together and support each other. I have met some great people and built up a new group of friends.”

Luke said he eventually hoped to get his own place and find work in the area. “I have always worked and it is my goal to find a job in something hands-on, such as construction,” he said.

With Christmas just around the corner, Luke said he was looking forward to spending time with his young nephews and the rest of his family.

“I am really close to my nephews and I help my sister out by picking them up from school,” he said. “I can’t wait to see them opening their presents and being with my family and not on the streets on Christmas Day.”

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