Donald Martin and Matt Bruce with Foyer service users, staff and committee members. 

Western Isles Foyer, the charity which supports homeless and other vulnerable young people in the islands, is celebrating a double recognition – the award of Investors in Young People status and a very good report from the Care Inspectorate.

To mark the occasion, Foyer hosted a tea party in the sun at their premises in Bayhead, Stornoway, for all of their service users, staff and committee members. 

The Lord Lieutenant of the Western Isles, Donald Martin, attended the event to present the Investors in Young People award to Foyer, and was full of praise for the work they do with young people aged 16 to 26. 

This work includes their supported accommodation service, set up in 2003 in response to recognition that young people were struggling to sustain their tenancies and were becoming homeless, whether that was for failing to pay their rent, antisocial behaviour or other reasons. 

In 2011 it expanded its service provision by creating a drop-in service and independent living skills programme. This was aimed at helping young people develop the skills they need, from cooking to budgeting, to be able to successfully live on their own and also aimed at helping them move into education, training and employment to support them to become financially independent.

Foyer also helps get service users ready for the world of work by organising work placements and other voluntary opportunities – and have been employing a young person directly themselves through a third sector scheme. 

Investors in Young People is a good practice framework which acknowledges organisations who are committed to recruiting, retaining and developing young people. 

Rebecca Mahony, Western Isles Foyer’s Project Leader, said: “We are absolutely delighted the organisation has achieved Investors in Young People award, acknowledging our commitment to the employment, training and development of young people in our community.

“As an organisation we aim to focus on supporting all the young people we work with into education, training and employment. We recognise the additional barriers that some young people face in securing employment and are committed, as an employer, in creating meaningful employment opportunities for young people as well as encouraging other local employers to do the same.”

Rebecca said Foyer currently employ one young person via the the Community Jobs Scotland scheme, which is administered by the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations. This scheme provides employers with funding to create jobs for people experiencing specific barriers to work, including young people with long-term physical or mental health conditions, care-experienced young people, young people leaving the armed services and young people who have experienced alcohol or substance dependency issues.

This young person is the third employed via the scheme, which nationally has created employment opportunities for 8,000 young people. The previous two have both moved on to permanent jobs elsewhere. 

Lord Lieutenant Donald Martin said he was “very impressed with what Foyer have achieved in such a short time”, adding: “The commitment and dedication of the staff is outstanding and as a small organisation they deliver a first class service and facility which fills a much-needed gap for our young people within the  community”.

Regarding the Investors in Young People award, he said: “The assessors were very impressed with the high standard of provision provided by Foyer and I think this reflects very highly on the enthusiasm of the small number of staff and the dedication of the committee members and volunteers, who ensure that the facility provides such a valuable service.”

Mr Martin spoke of the various ways in which Foyer supports young people – from the supported accommodation, assistance with employment, the drop-in centre, advice and advisory services. 

“I think the Foyer project has been very beneficial to young people in that it provides an opportunity for youngsters to have access to a safe quality environment, personal development opportunities for training, employment and housing as well as other professional advice such as health and wellbeing.”

He added: “I was delighted to be able to join them in celebrating their double achievement – the Investors in Young People Award and a most positive Care Inspectorate Report. It was a most enjoyable afternoon tea party.

“A strong family atmosphere came through and it was a memorable day for all involved with the project. The users were all very proud of being part of the celebrations and justly so, since they contributed so much to the achievements. 

“Foyer is providing youngsters with the chance to develop independent and fulfilled lives which will equip them to become active citizens of which our community will be proud. I wish them every success for the future”.

The inspection report from the Care Inspectorate officially recognised that Foyer were “very good” in all the areas that their inspection focused on.

The Care Inspectorate, responsible for regulating and inspecting all agencies providing care in Scotland, inspected Foyer in April this year and awarded the organisation grades of five (meaning ‘very good’) in their inspection report.  The areas that the current inspection focused on Quality of Care and Support and Management and Leadership. 

Matt Bruce, chair of Western Isles Foyer, said the organisation was “very proud” of this.

He added: As an organisation we are committed to continuous improvement and the Care Inspectorate has a pivotal role in this process. Their inspections, and subsequent feedback and reports, act as a really useful formal evaluation process that acknowledges all of the hard work, commitment and dedication of the organisations’ staff team and committee members in supporting young people to achieve positive outcomes.

“We are very proud of the achievements of the young people we work with and are very grateful for the positive and enthusiastic engagement they have with the organisation. Their feedback and contribution in the Care Inspectorate inspection was invaluable and helps keep us focused on their needs.” 

A report by Highlands and Islands Enterprise of unemployment figures in the region showed that, in December 2017, there were 5,690 claimants and of these 1,030 were aged 18 to 24 – a figure of 18 per cent.