Banbury charity launches campaign to highlight the many programs they offer young people.

BYHP display, Banbury NNL-160613-152359001
BYHP display, Banbury NNL-160613-152359001

Banbury charity BYHP is not just for homelessness but so much more says their head of business.

This past week has marked Small Charity Week and Banbury charity Banbury Young Homelessness Project (BYHP) have taken the opportunity to promote the extensive range of services they offer.

Although a valued community charity for the last 26 years there is still some misunderstanding as to what services BYHP has to offer and to whom.

Tim Tarby-Donald, head of business for the charity said: “Both before I joined and knowing the charity myself and people I knew talking about the charity there is a little bit of misconception about what we do.

“The core focus is we’re a young persons’ charity. Yes we’re called Banbury Young Homelessness Project but we’re a young persons’ charity and we do a lot more than support homelessness.”

The three main core elements the charity focuses on are giving young people the skills to enter the job market via the Unlocking Potential programme, counselling services and the prevention of homelessness by encouraging reconciliation within the family unit.

Mr Tarby-Donald said: “The real areas of growth are the prevention side. We do what’s called family mediation which is work with young people and their families to try to resolve their conflicts.

“Another misconceived idea held by people is that people are on the streets through drink and drugs but actually it’s not that. The majority is to do with parental and family breakdown, relationship breakdown.

“So a core area for us, which sits extremely tightly with the homelessness prevention strategy that CDC (Cherwell District Council) are maintaining, is that we work with families to try to avoid the young person ending up where they’re in a position where they have vulnerable housing or they are homeless.”

Due to limited resources and the complexity that family mediation can entail, the charity is only able to intervene in this way for a limited number of people but the success of the programme, however, is impressive.

Mr Tarby-Donald said: “Working with a family can take months and months sometimes to resolve their conflicts so the young person can either stay at home or can go back home.”

He added: “We have an 80 per cent success rate but we are talking tens of families as it can last for months and the resources it takes to do that are quite intensive. CDC provides us with some funding. It’s much cheaper, easier and better all round to prevent homelessness than to deal with the problem when it happens.”

In addition to the work BYHP does with families to reconcile differences and prevent a young person becoming homeless, they also run a course to empower young people and help find them paid employment.

The Unlocking Potential programme is a three-day-a-week course that runs for five weeks and is held five times a year.

Run with the support of job centre the program goes far beyond the scope of simply finding young people work.

Tim Tarby-Donald, head of business for the charity, said: “In the very early stages a lot come in and they have no self esteem and they don’t believe they have anything to offer anybody. They’ve come from difficult backgrounds and they will walk in the door and barely look you in the face. They don’t have any confidence.”

The free course is open to any young person and is a service that BYHP are keen to promote during Small Charity Week.

Mr Tarby-Donald said: “Another reason for doing the campaign is that we don’t want young people to think ‘Well I can’t go to that because I’m not homeless.’ Anyone aged between 16 and 25 can come to the course.”

The course is also augmented by both local and national organisations who provide expert advice on a range of topics. Barclays Bank representatives teach money and debt management, Lloyds Bank gives expert advice on customer service roles, the National Career Service offers advice on CVs and job applications and Banbury Rotary Club teaches interview skills and techniques.

At the end of the five-week course BYHP work with local businesses to find work experience placements and work with employment agencies to find young people worthwhile work.

Mr Tarby-Donald said: “At the end of the course they are much brighter, engaging and they’ve got more confidence. They feel relaxed and you see a change in their body language. It’s amazing.” For more info visit www.byhp.org.uk.