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Jamie Hepburn MSP visits Loreburn Housing Association

Loreburn Housing Association has welcomed Jamie Hepburn, Minister for Business, Fair Work and Skills, to Stranraer to discuss its innovative Youth Foyer which represents a significant and innovative opportunity to improve the lives of young people in the area.

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Stranraer is one of the most deprived areas of Scotland with low employment prospects for young people. 16% of school leavers are unemployed in the area which is double the national average.

Youth Foyers, which are recognised as international best practice, provide safe and secure housing, support and training for young people. The innovative project, which is a first for Dumfries and Galloway and only the second of its kind in Scotland, gained planning permission in January and is expected to be complete in early 2020 on the site of the former Garrick Hospital.

The Youth Foyer will cater for twelve 16 -25 year olds at risk of homelessness, giving them a stable, secure affordable environment and support from trained staff. They will also have access to education, training and employment pathways and volunteering options, and an opportunity to develop independent living skills.

The proposals for the Garrick Hospital site, which were designed by Aitken Turnbull Architects, will also see the creation of eight one-bed and four two-bed “extra care” dementia-friendly homes alongside the Youth Foyer. The Foyer will also offer community access areas, a state of the art conference facility, breakout spaces and access to WiFi, creating a transformational space for Stranraer and Wigtownshire. 

Loreburn Housing Association knows that it needs to form new and effective partnerships with local employers to support the young people who will live at the Foyer into sustainable employment. Loreburn HA wants to work together with local businesses to co-design highly supported training and employment pathways that will help make this happen.

The purpose of the event attended by Mr Hepburn on 18 July was to encourage local employers to participate in this innovative model by:

  • Contributing to the design of a tailored training/employment pathway
  • Providing work placements for young people living at the Foyer that, if successfully completed, could lead to a longer-term job
  • Providing feedback and contributing to the development of best practice demand-led employment programmes.

No business is too large or small to have a positive impact on the life of a young person, so Loreburn is seeking partner organisations of all sizes.

Lorraine Usher, Chief Executive of Loreburn Housing Association said:

“We were delighted to welcome Jamie Hepburn to our employer event encouraging businesses in the area to support this innovative project.  This shared space project provides employers with an opportunity to work with talented young people locally while supporting and making a huge difference to the life chances of these individuals. The Foyer will be there to give a helping hand to young people who are motivated to study or work, and the young people living there will be expected to make a positive contribution to their local communities. All youngsters must be either working, studying or volunteering.

“Loreburn is committed to creating great places to live and great communities for all.  As the Foyer will be located right beside the dementia specific accommodation, it will also offer opportunities for intergenerational projects that involve both the young people and older people. This will help reduce social isolation in older people and increase civic participation for young people. Loreburn already has a successful track record of bringing younger and older people together through projects like the Galloway Gateway.”

Jamie Hepburn, Minister for Business, Fair Work and Skills commented:

“This Youth Foyer is a brilliant idea which benefits everyone involved, including the employers.  Organisations willing to support this will get a chance to work with young people in the area with a wide range of skills. Importantly these employers could make a massive impact on the lives of these young people, not just now but for the rest of their lives.”


Any employers wishing to get involved can find out more about the project at https://loreburn.org.uk/about-us/great-homes/the-foyer-/