YOUNG people living in the Simon Community’s Belfast Foyer in the South of the city have launched an exciting project exploring their experience of what it’s like to be young and homeless.

The young people, all aged between 18 and 21 years, launched the project in their new-look common room which was styled and furnished by IKEA Belfast. The launch included a short film on youth homelessness and the design, development and build of the new common room at the Simon Community hostel in South Belfast.

The Without Doors Project, which was also supported by Wheelworks and Helm Housing, saw the transformation not only of a room but of the hearts and minds of those involved, empowering those working on the project to develop key life skills, building their confidence and ultimately helping provide them create a route out of homelessness.

Karen McAlister, Head of Services for Young People with the Simon Community, said: “Homelessness in Northern Ireland is a huge problem, particularly amongst young people, with around 50 per cent of people in our accommodation under the age of 25. Whilst providing a safe and secure place for someone to sleep is one aspect of what we do, homelessness is not just about having a roof over your head. This project really shows the benefit of helping young people develop skills and confidence.

“The short film they have created is honest, moving and hard-hitting, and reveals the lives and positive experiences of the journeys of the young people on the road to and from the Belfast Foyer. It offers hope that each individual can end homelessness for themselves.”

Corey, who is 20 years old and has been a resident at the Belfast Foyer since December, said: “Since I have been in the Foyer I have really started to turn my life around. The Without Doors Project helped me build skills and confidence and is helping me find a route out of homelessness.”

Lynn Campbell from IKEA Belfast said: “The young people from the Belfast Foyer were a delight to work with and their enthusiasm for the project is reflected in the fabulous kitchen, dining and living space they’ve created. We were very pleased to be part of the Without Doors Project and with helping the young people turn a tired common room into a cosy, homely space where they can socialise, enjoy and even develop new skills including cooking and painting.”

Belfast Foyer was opened in 1997 as a project of the Simon Community NI and Belfast Improved Housing, now Helm Housing. It provides supported accommodation for 18- to 21-year-old young people who are homeless.

There are 42 bedsits in the Foyer and tailored programmes are designed to help the young residents achieve sustainable independence.