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'I was one of these children' - plans for new YMCA hostel spark debate in Sunderland

Picture c/o Google Streetview
Picture c/o Google Streetview
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Have your say

Plans to create a new YMCA hostel in Sunderland have divided Echo readers and sparked debate.

Hundreds of objections have been submitted over plans to turn the former Church View Medical Centre in Silksworth, which closed last year, into a YMCA for vulnerable young people.

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.

Many of those living nearby, however, are strongly opposed to the plans and fear the hostel would have a negative impact on the area.

The debate has split Echo readers down the middle, with comments both for and against the plans being left on our Facebook page.

Amy Johnson said: "I was one of these children. I lived in a place just like the YMCA in the city centre. I think young people need this opportunity to build a life for themselves, and support.

"Without it I probably wouldn't have been here today. I don't really think because kids are coming out of care should be branded druggies! Surely in life people learn that we're all different.

"I think without stability in some way these kids would end up with more issues. We go on about kids today! And that nobody stands up to help - yet this would support them, and it's an issue?"

Gemma Campey said: "I’m genuinely shocked and appalled... Not all kids are in the care system because they are evil or naughty, most of the time it’s not their fault (i.e parents deserted them, parents have mental health issues, drug or alcohol abuse.)

"Without this supported accommodation, these kids are turfed out the care system at 16 into a life of poverty, solitude, crime, substance abuse because they don’t believe there’s any other way to survive.

"If it was a proposal for a bail hostel or a sex offenders hostel or a homeless hostel then I’d totally understand the concerns, but these are just kids who need support, guidance and encouragement on how to become adults in an adult world."

Joanne Duggan said: "Well said Gemma these kids have sometimes been rejected by so called families and here is a chance to have support to go into adulthood and people still don't want them....no compassion."

Gaz Laybourn countered: "We don't want them on this estate. Yes, a small percentage might be ok, but we all know they are trouble. If you feel that concerned, let them move into your house with your kids."

Mandy Purvis said: "I am a resident of Silksworth and totally against this building being turned into residential accommodation.

"Yes initially it would be used to house the vulnerable young but once residential status is granted it could be used for anything further down the line."

Jo Lawrence said: "Milk of human kindness!!! These kids have had awful lives to have ended up in care!"

Francesca Maria Bowser said: "I’m a resident of silksworth and I’m all for this. These kids need a chance. They need help to be able to live independently. There was a post put up by the organisation itself.

"All residents of this facility have to be on either a training course or in employment, it is staffed 24/7. They need to learn the skills to be able to set them up for a life of living by themselves.

"These kids that you have so much against could, with help, go on to be doctors, nurses, policemen, tradesmen and women, vets, you name it.

"They aren’t all destined to a life of crime. You don’t know who could move in next door to you.

"You don’t know the personal lives of all of your neighbours. YMCA was set up to help those in need. It’s a good job it was because there’s obviously no moral and practical support from the community for those in need.

"Anyone child or adult can find themselves in a hard situation and need help. Would you say the same if it was a child you knew that had been in care and was now getting help to become independent?"

Linzi Riseam said: "I would of rather have seen the building been gifted to someone like Wearside Women in Need and help vulnerable women and children who are at risk of domestic violence and emotional abuse that impacts on kids.

"This location is not appropriate for the YMCA intentions .... like people have already said it’s not the case that nobody wants to help these people, but just not in this location!"

Lisa Warrener said: "At the end of the day us residents are doing exactly the same as what you claim to be doing for the kids that need help and that's protecting our children, houses our lovely little village because we don't want to bring up our children scared to walked past the proposed building."

Stewy Donkin said: "That stigma always goes with supported accommodation I can understand people's concerns about it not a bad thing sometime opens closed doors that would normally be closed on the setting up of these projects making people more aware of what's really going on in the back ground."

Deborah Ian said: "YMCA do fantastic work with young people. As for them being checked and vetted. Are all of your next door neighbours checked and vetted. YMCA oversee their care and support. Give young people a chance without prejudice."

Sarah Inglis said: "I am sorry, but the safety of my kids and my grandkids come first for me so if I'm cruel by opposing this plan then so be it.

"Once this building gets the residential order it could be used for any number of things all it takes is the YMCA losing their funding then who knows what will happen in the building next so for all you people saying it’s for the kids coming out of care thats all well and good but then who would get the building next are we going to end up like what’s happening down Roker."

Claire Gilby said: "I am so shocked at the comments, you are already stereotyping these young people and you have no clue about there backgrounds. They deserve a chance in life and you would be none of the wiser if they moved into the house next door and a social worker worked with them.

"You probably have people living in your street that will do more harm. Disgusting to think that people knock people down before they even get a chance."