Interview with Kate Russell, The Foyer Federation

We speak to the head of programmes and network of The Foyer Federation, a network of learning and accommodation centres for young people who can't live at home. 

Interview with Kate Russell, The Foyer Federation

Tell us about yourself and how you ended up working with the Foyer Federation? 

Hello! My name’s Kate and I’ve been working at the Foyer Federation for 2.5 years. I’m currently the Head of Programmes and Network. My background is in network management, writing and editing, and it’s my love of working with people that brought me to this value-led charity.

What is the Foyer Federation, and what do they do? 

First, I think it’s important to talk about what a Foyer is and does. A Foyer is a learning and accommodation centre for young people aged 16-25 who can’t live at home. The Foyer model was brought from France to the UK by Shelter and Diageo in 1992 as an alternative to hostels, which tended to be quite dark and dingy – not the best base from which to launch into a positive adulthood. In Foyers, not only is the accommodation of 7eb6e0612b1427f23065c8dbc9cefe85119557c9.jpga high standard, but young people are engaged in a holistic development offer that provides them opportunities to learn and grow into a thriving future. Foyers work across seven key areas with the young people who live there: health, education, employment and enterprise, personal development, social skills, finance and housing.

As the Foyer Federation, we have a network of member Foyers all around the country, stretching from Penzance to Aberdeen. Our role is to offer quality development through our nationally recognised accreditation and training workshops, inspiration through our community events and resources, and innovation through our programmes and partnerships. Everything we do is rooted in our Advantaged Thinking philosophy, which promotes working with young people based on their strengths and talents rather than defining them by things they don’t have or the challenges they face.

How bad is the issue of homelessness facing young people today? 

Before the pandemic, we knew that around 85,000 young people every year couldn’t live at home. Unfortunately, the last two years have been extra hard on some families and young people. We believe that there needs to be greater investment in the supported housing sector – and in Advantaged Thinking approaches in particular – to ensure that young people are getting the best possible opportunity to thrive, whatever they may have been through. Young people who have experienced homelessness are some of the most resilient of their generation and they have buckets of potential. They deserve the same trust, belief and opportunities as every other young person.

What are some of the common reasons that cause a young person to become homeless? 

There are many, many reasons that might cause a young person to experience homelessness, but often it is as a result of family breakdown or an abusive home situation. 

What kinds of services does the foyer service have in place to help young people? 

Foyers are more than just a room to live in – they provide a community for young people to be part of, dedicated coaches who work with young people on their personalised goals, and a holistic approach that aims to develop 4a18970f53545b9a54ef358a6a914430c8d15648.jpgthe whole person and to work with them to secure a thriving future. Through our FOR Youth quality development and accreditation, we endorse and certify quality services that achieve the best outcomes for and with young people.

What is advantaged thinking and how does it apply to the foyer service? 

The Foyers in our network are all committed to working with young people in an Advantaged Thinking way, using our 7 Tests to check themselves and reflect on their approach. This means that they choose positive language when talking about young people rather than labels like ‘NEET’ or ‘disadvantaged’; they try to understand young people for who they really are; they work with young people through their strengths and talents rather than simply fixing problems; they invest resources in enabling young people to thrive and flourish as well as simply coping; they hold the same ambitions for young people with experience of homelessness as they do for their own families; they involve young people in their services and in developing solutions to their own problems; and they challenge others in their community, sector and organisation to do the same.

Foyers are in operation all over the UK. If you or someone you know is suffering from youth homelessness and needs help and support, visit The Foyer Federation

Header Image Credit: Kate Russell

Author

Saskia Calliste

Saskia Calliste Voice Team

26-year-old writer and assistant editor for Voicemag UK living in London. I have an MA in Publishing, a BA in Creative Writing & Journalism and am a featured author in The Women Writers’ Handbook. Currently in the process of publishing a book of interviews with influential Black women called 'Hairvolution'. I mainly write reviews and opinion pieces because I certainly always have something to say.

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