Heart Foyer closes for rethink

A CONTROVERSIAL facility for vulnerable young people, which has been blamed for incidents of anti-social behaviour in Halesworth, has been temporarily closed.

A CONTROVERSIAL facility for vulnerable young people, which has been blamed for incidents of anti-social behaviour in Halesworth, has been closed temporarily.

The Heart Foyer in Steeple End, which offers accommodation and training for homeless or unemployed young people, will close for two to three months while management review the facility.

In recent years it has been at the centre of controversy in the town, with local residents blaming the young people for a number of incidents of anti-social behaviour in Halesworth.

And now that the facility is empty, with the only three residents moving out recently, management say that they have taken the opportunity to "take stock."

The Heart Foyer, who do not wish to comment on the individual cases of the three residents, have stressed that they left after mutually agreeing that "things weren't working out," and were not evicted.

However it has been suggested that the decision to close had been sparked by incidents of anti-social behaviour in the town at the end of April, which may have been connected with the facility.

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A spokesman for the Heart Foyer said: "We're taking the opportunity to close the service to review the situation. It's never been empty before so that's why we could use it as an opportunity to take stock."

In March the town council passed a vote of no confidence in the company running the Heart Foyer. They were then effectively given three months to try to improve supervision at the centre, and while more evening supervision had been implemented, problems persisted.

"It's not a hostel, it's a foyer," the Heart spokesman explained. "It's a tricky one in terms of monitoring but it may be that they come to a different way of managing it in the future.

"It tended to be the friends of the residents and that's been a problem. They were being allowed into the foyer and in some situations that wasn't a wise move. But kids have got friends and some are going to be bad apples.

"But you're always going to have vulnerable young people and we're always going to be committed to helping young people."

Sandra Leverett, chairman of Halesworth Town Council, acknowledged that there had been problems and complaints about the foyer over the years. But she said she hoped the council would be able to give the Heart Foyer another chance in the future within "a set time frame" and "strict targets."

"We're trying to get the balance between dealing with vulnerable young people and dealing with the residents that live nearby," she said. "We're trying to get some community cohesion."

A meeting between the management of the Heart Foyer and local residents had been arranged for June 3, however this has now been cancelled due to the closure of the centre.