Jason Wyse expressed his frustration that the former Brig-y-Don children’s home, which the organisation has refurbished as Hope House at a cost of almost £250,000, has received only eight young people for its four-week placement programmes since it opened in April.
‘I’m sad to say that it feels as if we haven’t moved forward from the care inquiry report,’ Mr Wyse said, adding that the charity was experiencing similar problems to those which it confronted when opening its adult facility, Silkworth Lodge, in Vauxhall Street, 19 years ago.
‘The difference here is that, at a time when the offering of children’s services in this area are in great demand, we have the outcomes of a children’s inquiry report which really slammed the lack of care for young people. We are sitting here talking about something which we shouldn’t have to be doing – we should be embracing the support that is available to young people and making it accessible to all. That’s what the inquiry highlighted, what various reports have highlighted and what the ambition of government is,’ Mr Wyse said.
Last year the charity took on the lease for the former children’s home, which is registered for 11 residential places, and re-opened it under a licence from the Care Commission that allows it to accommodate six people initially.
However, it has received only eight clients for its four-week programmes, which offer a combination of therapeutic interventions and activities, group sessions and follow-up with work families.
Mr Wyse said it appeared that the priorities of the Department for Children, Young People, Education and Skills did not match the provision which the charity was offering, and that the emphasis was instead being put on finding another children’s home.
‘We have struggled with government. There can be no harm in just give young people an option and, if anything, it actually supports the mantra of putting children first, which is what we hear a lot of in Jersey. We hear a lot of those words and the expression but do we see a lot of action?’ he asked.
He said that he had no doubt that there was a real demand for the services offered at Hope House and that the approach advocated by the Health and Community Services Department in the new Jersey Care Model offered a blueprint for government working in partnership with other agencies to deliver services.
A government spokesperson said senior officials had been in ‘constructive discussions’ with the Silkworth Trust about using places at Hope House and they were keen to work with them to ensure that, where the service offered there matched the assessed needs of a young person, a placement could be arranged.
‘The Government is keen to work with Silkworth as it is likely, from time-to-time, that the minister will consider placing young people at Hope House as part of their care and support arrangements when it best meets their needs.
‘Discussions to explore how Hope House can meet the needs of a wider group of children and young people in Jersey are ongoing.’