The Queen’s representative in the West Midlands has taken part in a ‘topping out’ ceremony to mark the final stage of construction for a flagship project to help homeless young people in Birmingham.
Clive Stone, Vice Lord-Lieutenant of the West Midlands joined Alan Fraser, chief executive of YMCA Birmingham, and Mark Bruckshaw, the charity’s chair of the board, to celebrate the milestone in the development of the Chris Bryant Centre in Erdington.
The occasion was marked by the unveiling of a plaque on the roof of the new centre, which forms an extension to The Orchard, an existing centre for helping young homeless people in the city.
Three-quarters of the way into its 12-month build, the expanded Orchard facility is due to open in January 2016 and will see the provision of a training café to be run as a social enterprise, additional conference and training facilities, a multi-purpose community hall and an additional 34 units of affordable accommodation added for young people an increase in capacity of 40% on the existing –83 rooms already at The Orchard.
“It’s one of my abiding sadnesses that more people don’t know of the wonderful work that YMCA does. The work is taking services for young people into the 21st century – and it’s deeply inspiring,” said the Vice Lord-Lieutenant.
“Assisting vulnerable young people in our local area is of critical importance and YMCA Birmingham is crucial for supporting them in their transition from unemployment and homelessness to stability and security. Supported housing facilities such as these are a must and it’s an honour to be part of a project making a real difference. “
Alan Fraser, chief executive of YMCA Birmingham, added: “The Orchard is a fantastic base for young people in need. We are thrilled that the Deputy Lieutenant has commemorated our milestone, celebrating the start of our final construction phase.
“This extension will further our mission to support 16-25 year olds in Birmingham, initially providing somewhere for them to live until they feel ready to move into independent places of their own. We have a great programme of training as well, offering employment and life-skills workshops to help them live out a more positive future.”
The first phase of The Orchard was completed four years ago and is home to a training room for business hire and a 35 space day nursery.