TEENAGERS in York coping with homelessness have met MP Hugh Bayley at a housing project which aims to get their lives on course.

The Scarcroft Project offers supported accommodation for nine people aged between 16 and 19, as well as helping a further 12 teenagers who are homeless or who are at risk of becoming homeless.

The project, set off Scarcroft Road, aims to help young people who come from difficult backgrounds to prepare for employment and to live independently.

Among those to meet with Mr Bayley, the MP for York Central, was 17-year-old Chloe Bourke.

Chloe lived at Howe Hill hostel in Holgate and most recently The Scarcroft Project and is now taking a course in child care at York College.

She told Mr Bayley she felt she was working to change her life with the help of support workers.

Laura Taylor, 17, said she had lived on the streets for a couple of weeks last winter and was pleased to be staying at The Scarcroft Project.

The York College student said: “I feel like I’m getting my life on track. It’s way better than living on the streets.”

Mr Bayley said: “It’s dreadful that some people become homeless and are left to fend for themselves before they are even out of their teens.

“You wouldn’t want it to happen to your children or any other young people you know.

“The Scarcroft Project is doing a great job helping them.

“If people have nowhere to live and no fixed address they can’t keep clean and tidy and it is impossible for them to find work. “Homelessness leads to a downward spiral and some young people turn to drink and drugs to block things out.

“They need a helping hand to get their lives back on course.

“I am impressed by the efforts being made by the young people I met today and grateful to the staff at the Scarcroft Project.”

The Scarcroft Project, which was launched in 1994 and is run by the Housing Association, has received funding from the Joseph Rowntree Foundation to develop extra services such as helping with literacy and communication and helping the young people prepare for employment.

Case study

EIGHTEEN-year-old Ella Roberts spoke of her frustration that complications with the benefits system meant she felt unable to move on with her life.

She became homeless at 17 and after a spell in Howe Hill Hostel and moved into The Scarcroft Project - accommodation she says she is pleased to have.

She has worked in a number of jobs, including as a carer, but since becoming pregnant has had to leave the work due to health reasons.

However, she said many weeks of delays in adjusting to the rent payments she had to make as an employed and then unemployed tenant had left her hundreds of pounds in rent arrears which needed to be cleared before she could move in with her boyfriend and their baby.

She said she was ineligible for income support until May and had to continue to apply for jobs and attend weekly interviews, despite her “not having a chance” of getting work due to her pregnancy.

Ella said: “It’s good there’s something like this because otherwise you would be on the streets.

“I think it’s depressing when you are struggling. It makes you feel down and depressed but you have to keep with it because that’s your only option.

“There’s a lot of pressure on you. It’s making me angry that I can’t move on even though I’m pregnant.”