Written by Scott Campbell.
Published at 16:15 GMT on Tuesday, 13th November 2012.
Local YMCA/ YWCA’s ability to look after homeless youths halved after council “forced” the charity out of Tarbolton Road


CUMBERNAULD YMCA/YWCA’s Chief Executive has told STV Local that vulnerable young people will be left homeless this winter after North Lanarkshire Council took back its Tarbolton Road premises from the charity.

 

Eleanor Campbell claims the YMCA was “forced” to hand back the keys of its building in Tarboltan Road last month to North Lanarkshire Council after an argument regarding whether the charity had paid the correct amount of rent.

 

The eviction left the charity reeling and now, Ms Campbell has warned of dire consequences for young people who have nowhere else to go in the approach to Christmas.

 

She told STV Local: “Without a doubt, young people will be homeless and they will be more vulnerable than they would have been if the YMCA had remained.

 

“There is nowhere that is specifically aimed at their needs like the YMCA. We no longer have emergency accommodation, so there is a certain need that will no longer be met.”

 

In August, Councillors on the Housing and Social Work Services committee agreed to cancel a letting arrangement the council held with the Cumbernauld YMCA/YWCA for the Tarbolton Road building, in order to meet “identified housing needs” after it was concluded there was “a shortage of temporary accommodation for homeless households”, according to an official report.

 

“The council is required to make the best use of all accommodation resources within reducing budgets,” the report went on to add.

 

After protesting at a full council meeting on October 4th and gathering over 2000 signatures in a petition, Ms Campbell says the group feels badly let down by the local authority and councillors, after an attempt by the SNP to have the issue debated was rejected by the ruling Labour members, at the full council meeting.

 

Then, on October 24th  the YMCA moved out of the Tarbolton Road premises after - Ms Campbell claims - housing benefit was withdrawn from the users, meaning the YMCA had no income.

 

She added: “We were forced out. They left us no alternative.

 

 “We assumed someone would get in touch with us to discuss us moving out the building after the council meeting (on October 4).

 

“Had we been able to afford it, we would have taken this to court. There is a group of young people who will no longer be catered for.

 

“Some young people when they come to us, aged 16 or 17, can’t cope.

 

“We still have some properties in the community, but these people who use them will need to be at a certain level of coping before they go, as we don’t have 24/7 care at these places.

 

“There are some people who need that extra support. There are no other YMCA facilities that they could have gone to.

 

“The reason these people were in the YMCA was 24/7 cover was appropriate for them.”

 

Ms Campbell says the YMCA has no idea what happened to the seven people who were at the facility on the morning the charity left, adding that she estimates the charity can now look after only 13 people at one time, around 38 a year, in North Lanarkshire after the closure of the Tarbolton Road premises – down dramatically from 75 people a year in the area.

 

Ms Campbell added: “Because it all happened in such a rush, we need to sit down and say where we can go from here. There are a whole host of things we will need to look at.

 

“By next April, after we have regrouped and discussed with other agencies, we could see a way forward.

 

“There is a meeting of the YMCA trustees in two weeks, but this won’t be resolved then. We will have to look at the implication for budgets long term, as this is a large section that has been taken out of it.

 

“It is certainly going to make things difficult for us, but it is not the end.”


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