Organisations in Somerset join forces to launch a new support service for young people

Pathways to IndependenceThis week sees the launch of the new P2i (Pathway to Independence) support service for young people across Somerset.

P2i is an innovative partnership project between Somerset County Council, the five District Councils (Sedgemoor, South Somerset, Mendip, Taunton Deane and West Somerset) and a number of housing providers.

The P2i service offers support for homeless and vulnerable young people aged 16 to 24. The service will cover joint needs assessments, family mediation, housing advice, emergency accommodation, supported housing, floating support and signposting to other services.

Each district has established a P2i ‘hub’ providing a single point of access for young people in each local area. This way, they’ll be able to access mediation and joint support from relevant agencies to get the best possible help available to them. In South Somerset the P2i ‘hub’ is located at Petters House, Petters Way, Yeovil.

Councillor Ric Pallister, Leader of the Council said, “First I want to pay tribute to the excellent work that has been delivered to date by the existing providers of projects for young people across South Somerset. Without the dedication of those agencies and in particular their staff, we would be in a much worse position and many young people would have lost opportunities.

“We all welcome the greater focus on the critical area of homelessness prevention amongst young people. Enhancing integrated working between the District Council’s specialist Housing team, the County Council’s Young People’s team and Knightstone Housing makes absolute sense. Although we each will still have our legal areas of responsibility I am confident that the new arrangement will bring added value.

“This is a time of great uncertainty as budgets are trimmed and demand rises. There are risks in the way in which services have been remodelled which will see a reduction in the availability of dedicated supported housing schemes over the next few years. We will be working closely with County colleagues, both officers and members, to minimise those risks and ensure that, to the best of the District Council’s ability, no vulnerable young person finds themselves in an “at risk” situation.”

Sonia Furzland, Assistant Director at Knightstone said, “We’re thrilled to be involved in this fantastic new service for young people, and we’re looking forward to delivering it through the Knightstone P2i hub in Yeovil, which will cover South Somerset.

“This is an exciting new, joint-working venture for all of us.”

Cllr Frances Nicholson, Cabinet Member for Children and Families at Somerset County Council, said “It’s so good to see the launch of this fantastic partnership project. It demonstrates how, by working together, we can develop an effective and efficient service that makes a big difference to young people’s lives.

“No young person should be living on the street. It’s our priority to support and help young people to live a safe, healthy, stable and independent life. This new service will reduce the number of young people who are homeless in the county and will give vulnerable young people a more positive future.”

Preventing homelessness amongst young people is a key feature of the new P2i service. A targeted programme of housing and homelessness education in schools, colleges and youth groups, will be delivered, along with a family mediation service, to encourage young people to stay at home wherever possible, and offer them the support they need to do this.

A series of local launches is taking place in each area, from17 July, with the first event taking place at the Bridgwater YMCA. Knightstone Housing is also holding one at the Yeovil Foyer on 19 July.

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