Award-winning Corby project faces uncertainty over funding

Lauren Duffy and her son Kaiden Johnston
Lauren Duffy and her son Kaiden Johnston
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An award-winning Corby project transforming the lives of teenage parents in the town is facing uncertainty over its future funding.

More than 220 new parents have now been helped by Eden Park, pioneered by arsa Housing Group.

This month marks the ninth anniversary of the supported housing scheme which provides young parents between 16 and 24 with the skills and confidence they need to move into their own homes.

The accommodation is funded through housing benefit and the Government’s supporting people programme but this source is only confirmed until March 2014.

Project manager Zoe Hall said: “We are unsure what the future holds. We know the project is desperately needed, so we are working hard to explore all funding options.”

Asra launched the project in 2005 in response to the high teenage pregnancy rate in Corby and it now offers 13 fully-furnished, self-contained flats, each of which provides a safe and secure modern home, as well as communal areas including a large kitchen, indoor and outdoor play space for children, a courtyard and allotment where the teenagers are encouraged to grow their own vegetables.

There is a waiting list for the flats.

One of those to have benefitted is Jordan Macines, 21, from Corby, who has been a resident at Eden Park for almost six months.

He moved in with his girlfriend Amanda, 19, a month before their son was born.

Jordan said: “We were living with my mum but knew the house would be too crowded once the baby arrived.

“The plan was to get a private letting but we had no hope of affording it. I was already aware of Eden Park because it has such a fantastic reputation in Corby but the midwife also referred us to it.

“We’ve got our own little flat and were able to settle in before the baby was born. I don’t know how we would have coped without this place.

“As well as giving us a home, it has helped us become better parents through the parenting support classes, baby massage groups and breakfast clubs. We are mixing with other young people who are in the same situation. The staff have helped us work out what benefits we are entitled to and now they are helping me to look for work.”

Green-fingered Jordan has also developed a passion for Eden Park’s allotments and takes great pride managing the site and helping to produce fresh vegetables that are used during cookery classes.

Lauren Duffy, 18, is another young mum who recently turned to Eden Park. She was forced to quit college when she discovered she was pregnant last year.

Lauren said: “I had to leave my hairdressing course half way through, my relationship broke down and I didn’t know what to do.

“I didn’t know the first thing about running a house, or how to cook, or how to budget for my own home – Eden Park has changed all of that.

“Staying here has really helped me get back on my feet and I am so independent. I have a beautiful little boy, lots of new friends who are all in the same situation as me, and I’m hoping to return to college.”

Zoe said: “We provide housing and support for single mums, single dads and families. We create individually tailored support packages and resettlement plans for each of our clients to ensure they have the skills needed to move on to their own homes. This is our ultimate aim.

“Our six-strong team may be small but this allows us to form strong and trusting relationships with our clients. It consists of me, three key workers, two support workers and some recent funding from Children In Need has allowed an additional activity worker.

“We work very hard to give these new parents the opportunity to enjoy their babies, providing them with the skills needed to be good role models. “We are delighted to be celebrating our ninth birthday, and a key focus is ensuring we are open to celebrate our tenth next year.”