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Solas is member of the Seren Group and opened the Monmouthshire Young Persons
Scheme in March 2005. The scheme provides temporary emergency
accommodation for young people aged 16-24 years although in exceptional
circumstances this age limit is relaxed to allow older single people to be
accommodated. Over 25’s are carefully vetted to ensure that they are suitable to
fit in with the younger housemates.

The scheme operates from two sites, one at Woodstock House in Abergavenny and
the other at Hill House in Chepstow. The scheme does not provide permanent
accommodation. Residents may stay up to approximately 6 months, though
occasionally this period is extended if suitable accommodation is not available for
them to move on to. Solas works in partnership with Monmouthshire County
Council to assist residents to access suitable accommodation.

Facilities at Woodstock House and Hill House include en suite rooms with kitchen
facilities (similar to student university accommodation), access to a communal
lounge, kitchen and laundry facilities. At Woodstock House they have 12 rooms
and at Hill House 9 rooms. They also receive 24 hour support – there are two staff
on site during the day and one at night as well as ‘on-call’ staff available.

It’s a myth that a 16-24 year old will automatically be re-housed if presenting as
homeless. There are strict procedures to go through, and where possible, the client
will be temporarily housed with a relative (i.e. grandparent) whilst the
circumstances are investigated to avoid bed and breakfast having to be used.
Approximately 50% of clients are aged between 16-18 years of age.

When a client is offered temporary accommodation at Woodstock House or Hill
House they also receive a lot of other support. 90% of clients have severe
emotional problems, mental health and/or behaviour issues; many have difficulties
with reading and writing and have low self esteem. Most lack basic life skills and
help is given with budgeting and teaching them how look after themselves;
cooking, cleaning etc.

If a client is from the south of the county and the only vacancy is at Woodstock
House, they will be offered the opportunity to move to Hill House as soon as a room
becomes available as it is felt that it is better to keep the client as close to his/her
own community if possible.

Solas aims to look at residents needs on an individual basis; this is achieved
through regular key-working sessions with Solas staff. This strives to assist clients
to identify realistic goals for themselves and the measures necessary to achieve
them. Clients also access the day centre, Compass, in Newport which provides a
range of activities that are aimed at providing clients with the skills, confidence and

knowledge that will enable them to move onto further education, training and
employment. They also receive support from a Mediation Service which on a
number of occasions has resulted with the client returning home to his/her family.

Clients are not allowed to just ‘hang around the house’ all day. They are
encouraged to attend training centres as many have not completed their formal
education. They can only bring friends back to the house between 4pm to
approximately 10pm. Many find they are living in a disciplined environment for the
first time in their lives.

A small number of clients have substance misuse issues for which help is provided.
This is a higher problem in the Chepstow area, where drugs appear to be more
freely available probably due to the close proximity with Bristol.

Most clients receive benefits of around £45 per week out of which they have to pay
£13.68 towards their accommodation. This leaves them with just over £30 to pay
for all their food and living expenses plus pay for transport to their training centre.
It can be hard to motivate clients to spend their money on travelling costs as there
is no financial incentive and initially they can see no personal benefit. Every client
is referred for training/employment and Solas work closely with Llamau, Careers
Wales, Compass Centre, Protocol, A4E, Job Centre Plus (New Deal) as well as other

Monmouthshire Housing liaises closely with the Solas and when single person
accommodation becomes available in the area clients are considered for suitability.
All clients are accommodated through Monmouthshire Housing into Private Lease
Accommodation. Once clients have moved into their own accommodation, they
receive 13 weeks support from the Mediation Service as well as 6 and 12 monthly
follow-up from the Solas staff.

Clients will not get accommodation if they are evicted from the scheme which would
mean that they have made themselves ‘intentionally’ homeless. Some clients do
move on to other more suitable accommodation if it is assessed that their support
need is too high for the scheme to manage. Solas will then look to refer the client
to an alternative service provider, for instance MIND or the Learning Difficulties
section of Social Services who may access Reach.

None of the clients at Woodstock House or Hill House to date have been able to
secure private accommodation due to the fact that it is simply too expensive.


Solas staff work closely with the local community to ensure that they are no
problems. Residents are invited to come into the centres to see for themselves
what work is going on within.


Accommodation is not cheap. It costs around £274 per person per week.
However, B & B costs the authority approximately £25-30 per night (£210 per
week) and the clients at Woodstock and Hill House benefit greatly from all the
services offered to them, none of which are available to homeless 16-24 year olds
living in B & B.


  1. Lack of work placements available for clients. We agreed to speak to officers
     at MCC about clients being offered work placements at various departments
     – for example placements could be offered at Raglan Depot, with parks dept,
     schools and nurseries, administration in offices at MCC. Being able to state
     on their CV that they have completed work experience at Monmouthshire
     County Council with appropriate references, could give clients a boost in
     finding employment.

  2. Grant funding. Difficulties occur for clients when they have to pay in
     advance for transport yet receive benefits fortnightly in arrears. Solas need
     to apply for a small grant to enable them to advance initial travel payment to


     32 male clients accommodated at Hill House since 2005
     29 Female clients accommodated at Hill House since 2005
     59% of all clients aged between 17-18
     Main reasons for homelessness – Breakdown in relationship with parents 80%
     Main area of origin Chepstow 50.8%
     Main support need – young and vulnerable 54%
     52.1% of clients accommodated at scheme since 2005 have been involved in
      training and employment opportunities
     74% of all clients accommodated at the scheme since 2005 have been
      engaged with external agencies
     36% of clients have been resettled into MCC properties
     27.8% have returned to their family home


     45 male clients accommodated at Woodstock House since 2005
     47 Female clients accommodated at Woodstock House is 2005
     42% of clients aged 16-17
     Main reason for homelessness – relationship breakdown with parents 74%
     Main area of origin Abergavenny 61%
     Main support need – young and vulnerable 55%

     50% of all clients accommodated since 2005 have been involved in training
      and employment opportunities
     64.9% of all clients accommodated since 2005 have been engaged with
      external agencies
     45.6% of all clients accommodated since 2005 have been resettled into MCC

Mediation Service
Monmouthshire Housing
Right Move Bond Scheme
Ian Bakewell, MCC

Author: Jacqui Sullivan


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