On 4th July 2012 St Basils held the official opening of its newest accommodation scheme based in Aston, Birmingham.
This scheme, which was formerly sheltered housing for retired people, owned by Viridian Housing Association, is the first scheme that St Basils has bought outright, providing greater security for the future.
The scheme can accommodate 41 young people aged 16-25 and takes families as well as young single men and women. All flats have their own kitchen and bathroom and the project has a large training room with access to computers, a kitchen for Life skills training and other shared facilities.
From Left: Jean Templeton, Cllr John Cotton, Shemilee Gordon, Rosemary Austin and Bishop David
Speaking at the event, Jean Templeton, Chief Executive of St Basils said:
“We see about 3 or 4 times the number of young people that we are actually able to house so we know that getting good quality accommodation to give young people the best start is really important. This kind of scheme for younger people just starting out, is absolutely fantastic, they’ve got their own front door and they’ve also got a communal space so that there’s room for training and development because it’s all about building up their skills, building up their confidence, so that they are able to move on; this was the ideal sort of accommodation that we’ve been looking for and I’m very grateful to Viridian for approaching us about purchasing this scheme…I’m particularly proud that we have bought this scheme, we work to very tight margins, a lot of which comes from charitable donations but we have been able to use our reserves for this, there’s been no public subsidy and so I hope that this shows our commitment to the young people and to this city as a partner”.
Chris Miller, Head of Development and Sales at Viridian later added: “Veridian have a large social impact agenda which is all about helping young people as well as older people and improving their quality of life and we felt this stock could be put to better use, and would give younger people a better quality of life than older residents. From what I’ve seen and heard here today this is now a vibrant place for young people and the young residents are all very passionate about it so I’m very pleased; It’s perfect for this client group.”
As well as being the official opening of the project, it was also an opportunity to rename the complex ‘John Austin Court’ in honour of the late Bishop John Austin, former Chair of the St Basils board from April 2000 - September 2005 who is fondly remembered by staff.
Jean Templeton said: “Bishop John had the ability to connect with any one of any age, background or experience and as our Chair these qualities were wonderful. He always wanted to make sure no one was left out and everyone felt included and when he retired in 2005, tributes came from everywhere which just showed what an impact he’d made. I hope he would have been proud of this scheme”.
Rosemary Austin formally opened 'John Austin Court'
Bishop John’s wife Rosemary Austin formally opened the scheme, she said: “John was hugely proud of St Basils and knew how vital the work was and would have been delighted with this new scheme.”
Bishop David, the Bishop of Birmingham confirmed how proud Bishop John had been of St Basil’s work and how important this work was in contributing to social inclusion in the City. He said of the new scheme: “Some people know today, the 4th of July, better as Independence day and that is a great way to see this new development – not just to care for and support young people but help them move on to independence so they can play their full part in society.”
As well as St Basils board, staff and young people the opening was attended by neighbours of the project, local business people who have supported St Basils, Cabinet members Councillors John Cotton and Brigid Jones and friends, former colleagues and family members of Bishop John.
Shemilee Gordon, the Resident Rep at John Austin Court and current Vice Chair of St Basils Youth Advisory Board spoke at the event saying: “St Basils has provided me with more than just a roof over my head, or just somewhere to live, I’ve been given opportunities to represent young people and as a result of these experiences I now hope to train as a Support Worker". She added:"It’s been wonderful to see so many of St Basils supporters here and it's been lovely to meet Mrs Austin and get some background on Bishop John so that we can pass on that knowledge and look after this project so that the name John Austin will continue to mean something to the staff and the new young people who come here”.
Additional photos taken by Jas Sansi Photography are on Flickr:
Added July 2012