Hundreds object to hostel plans for former Sunderland GP surgery
Almost 800 people have signed a petition in opposition against plans to change a former GP surgery into a youth hostel.
Proposals to turn the former Church View Medical Centre in Silksworth, which closed last year, into a YMCA for vulnerable young people have been announced by the organisation.
The plans, which are still subject to approval, include an eight-bed purpose-built scheme to provide a place to live for young people aged between 16 and 21 who are preparing to leave the care system.
The YMCA say it will go towards helping the “huge issue” of young people leaving at 16 with nowhere safe to stay and in some cases even ending up on the streets.
A post on the YMCA Wearside Ltd Facebook page explained that five housing support workers and one specialised leaving care worker would staff the facility should it get the go ahead.
Bosses have said it will enable “young care leavers to have a perfect opportunity to lead fulfilling lives.”
They have also hit out at recent comments on social media about the plans which they argue have been a “combination of misinformation, gossip and lies”.
Those living nearby however say they remain strongly opposed to the plans, with hundreds of people turning up at a recent residents’ meeting to voice their concerns over the suitability of the move.
A petition set up on the change.org website to oppose the idea has now been signed by 770 people.
Grandmother Jennifer Daly, 60, who lives in Silksworth, told the Echo: “This would be situated close to a doctors surgery, a church and a children’s playpark and we just don’t feel it would be right.
“Ideally we want to try and keep it as a GP surgery or a dentists because it’s equipped for that.
“We aren’t against these sort of buildings being in operation at all but it would be in the wrong sort of area.”
Ward councillor Phil Tye has also spoken of his worries should the proposals get the green light.
Coun Tye told the Echo: “There was a meeting of Silksworth Residents’ Association and although there are only usually between 50 and 60 people, 360 people turned up because this was an item to be discussed.
“In the end we had to turn people away because it was standing room only.
“Our concerns are around if the people who would be living in this centre were unchecked or unvetted.
“There are also concerns that the medical centre could be needed in future, because of the planned increased in properties in the South Sunderland area with new homes being built and therefore more people living here.
“We recognise that there is a need for this type of facility, but we feel that this location is not suitable.
“A small working group has also been set up to meet regularly to see what we can do.”
Kath Hope, Chief Executive at YMCA Wearside said: “What has appeared on social media over the last few weeks has been a combination of misinformation, gossip and lies.
“It is disappointing to see people in the community we serve making factually inaccurate claims about our intentions.
“We have a huge issue in this country with young people leaving care at 16 years old with nowhere safe to stay – many of which will end up on the streets.
“Our scheme will provide a home for young people between the ages of 16 to 21 years-old and provide them with training and education to support their development.
“YMCA Wearside are in the process of kindly being gifted the building in the old Church View Medical Centre to continue our work supporting young people in the local community.
“The building’s usage is still subject to council approval which is currently in process.”
A further meeting of residents is set to take place to update residents tonight at Colliery Medical Group in Silksworth from 6pm to 7pm.
The petition by residents can be seen on the change.org website.