Hightown Housing Association has stepped in to offer vital emergency accommodation to looked-after children in Hertfordshire during the coronavirus outbreak.
The emergency provision will see up to five teenagers housed in a Hightown property in Hemel Hempstead, as families or other placements come under increased strain to cope in the face of sickness and self-isolation.
The Hightown service will provide 24-hour round-the-clock care by a support worker primarily for teenagers aged 16-17, with separate bedrooms and bathrooms allowing residents to self-isolate if necessary, as well as a communal kitchen and lounge.
Philippa Gardner, Hightown care and supported housing operations manager for Refuges & Young People’s Housing, said:
“As a charitable housing association with extensive experience in providing care and support to young people, Hightown is well placed to support Hertfordshire County Council by delivering this much needed service during the Covid-19 crisis.
“In addition to housing 16-17 year olds who may be struggling to remain at home or in their current placement because of the current lock-down measures, the scheme will also allow us to ease the pressure on local services by providing emergency overnight accommodation to younger teens while a suitable foster placement is identified.
“Once the coronavirus outbreak is over, the service will go on to form a new semi-independent living service for 16 to 17 year olds, complementing Hightown’s existing schemes in Hertfordshire for young people who are either homeless, leaving care, estranged from family or who have difficulty staying in education, training or employment.
Councillor Teresa Heritage, deputy leader and Cabinet Member for Children, Young People and Families said:
“Hertfordshire County Council have been working ‘flat-out’ to ensure its Covid-19 response has been appropriate, timely and always ensuring that its focus is providing the best outcomes for the County’s young people.
“Hightown delivers high quality accommodation across the County for vulnerable young people aged 16 to 25 years.
“I am personally really pleased that Hightown has brought forward the opening of these new projects to meet urgent need as it arises and anticipate this will have a really positive and welcome impact for our young people.”