"For as long as it takes...."
In 1972 Les Milner founded 'The Boot' nightshelter, opening up the church hall area behind St Basils Church as basic shelter.
The area could sleep 18 young men in dormitory style beds. Recognising that appropriate provision was also needed to help young women, St Basils set up Yardley House in 1975 to provide emergency supportive accommodation to homeless young women. From this grew the recognition that homeless young mothers also needed their own accommodation in order to provide the most appropriate support for them and in 1979 Trentham House in Acocks Green was opened as a registered nursing home for homeless young mothers and their babies.
In 1975 the St Basils 'detached' Youth Workers founded an advice centre based in the Bull Ring markets called 'The Kiosk', an information point for young people in need of advice, some of whom were homeless or at risk of homelessness.
In 1978, as an extension to 'the Kiosk', The St Basils Link was opened at new premises in Birmingham city centre on Newton Street adjacent to Corporation Street to provide greater access and advice to any young person at risk of homelessness as well as personal counselling services and hot drinks.
Having become apparent to Les Milner that there was, something of a link between, unemployment, a lack of skills and youth homelessness, St Basils set up a 'Work' project to provide experience to a core group of young people and to teach them skilled trades.
Yardley House and mother and baby unit Trentham House (although in a different building) are still a part of St Basils services today. Yardley House is now a mixed accommodation scheme helping single young men and women with emergency accommodation for up to 3 months whilst their situation and needs are assessed and more appropriate long term accommodation is found for them.
Although we no longer teach young people skills trades ourselves we do have extensive Learning, Skills and Work programmes, working with them in-house to build up their skills, self-esteem and knowledge so that they have the confidence to access external education, work, and training opportunities including our Live & Work scheme in Sandwell providing accommodation and NHS apprenticeships in partnership with Sandwell and West Birmingham Hospitals NHS Trust.
1982 - 1992
In 1982 workers based at 'The Boot' started to think about providing social activities for the young people beyond
the indoors activities available, and set up a Football team, run by volunteers, to provide a regular, fun, outside activity for the young people.
St Basils was now seeing about 150 different young 'sleepers' a month at The Boot, but space was limited. New 'sleepers' could stay for up to three weeks but returning 'sleepers' only a week. Recognising that more properties and accommodation was needed to provide the most appropriate response for young people, in the process of moving on but not yet ready for independence, St Basils opened a project known as the Runcorn Cluster; 2 properties which would provide semi-independent accommodation. In 1987 St Basils took over Tennyson House in Small Heath, which had been owned by Birmingham City Football Club, and used it to provide medium/ long-stay supported accommodation for homeless young men. The project, later renamed Radford House after St Basils Chair Rosie Radford, allowed for move-on accommodation from the Boot nightshelter for young men with higher support needs.
By 1987 Les Milner had recognised that providing dormitory style accommodation was no longer appropriate and that the building was in dire need of repair. St Basils launched 'The Boot' appeal to fundraise for a new shelter for homeless young men and in 1988 'The New Boot' in Bordesley was opened to replace the original Boot night shelter. The New Boot provided emergency accommodation for 21 homeless young men. They had their own rooms, 'bedsits', with access to shared facilities.
Meanwhile 'The Boot' was refurbished and converted into offices providing a Head Quarters base for St Basils administrative staff. The chapel area of the old church which had been preserved after the church fell out of use for worship was left unaltered and remains intact to this day.
In 2008 after extenstive refurbishment 'The New Boot' was renamed 'Milner Court' in honour of the late Revd Les Milner, founder of St Basils, so that his legacy would live on. It remained a project exclusively for young men until 2013. It is now our emergency accommdoation scheme in central Birmingham housing single young men and women for up to 3 months whilst they are assessed and a longer term alternative more suited to their needs is found for them.
St Basils church remained as offices for St Basils staff until 2012 when the downstairs part was converted into St Basils Youth Hub, meaning St Basils frontline advice and assessment services had gone full circle and returned to the location they were originally housed in. The Youth Hub had originally opened at The Bond in 2010. It replaced St Basils service 'The Link' which had been postitioned at the end of Corporation Street.
1992 - 2002
In 1992 Carole Gething House was opened to provide supportive short and long stay, and semi-independent accommodation for young homeless women. With three blocks, this could be provided under one-roof, young people would move up the blocks as they became more confident and gained the skills to live independently.
In the next few years St Basils opened a lot of different accommodation projects to provide new and more appropriate move-on accommodation options for young homeless men and women.
In 1994 Priory House in Hall Green opened to provide an additional project to Trentham House and longer term supportive accommodation for homeless young mothers and their babies or toddlers.
In 1994 our largest project to date, Edmonds Court, opened in Small Heath, providing long stay semi-independent accommodation for over 40 young people, including single parents with small children. In 1998 Edmonds Court became Birmingham's first Foyer meaning all young people based at the project were engaged in some form of work, training or education, creating a working community.
In 1997 St Basils first project outside the city boundaries in Solihull was opened providing longer stay supportive accommodation for 5 young people with a Solihull connection
In 1998, St Basils launched a 'Floating Support' project offering intensive housing resettlement support to young people moving into registered social landlord tenancies for the first time. Staff visited young people in their new homes to ensure they were making the transition to independent living sucessfully.
In 1999 St Basils set up a Family Mediation project, helping young people to recontact and rebuild relationships with family.
In 2000, Les Milner retired after 28 years as St Basils Managing Director and Jean Templeton, who had experience managing housing and neighbourhood services in a number of Local Authorities, was appointed as Chief Executive of St Basils.
All of the accommodation projects and services mentioned here are still in operation to this day. However Carole Gething House is now a mixed accommodation scheme providing help to young men as well as young women. Our Family Mediation service remains an important part of our youth homelessness prevention services. Our Floating Support service both helps to prevent homelssness and helps young people who have left St Basils to move on successfully. See 'our Services' for more information.
"Homelessness should not be 'part of growing up'...."
With Jean Templeton now at the helm, and after St Basils had officially become a Housing Association (RSL) and taken the time to reassess it's mission and strategic priorities, St Basils underwent a rebranding exercise moving away from 'the Boot' logo and deciding on a more young people focused design, with the 'i' emphasised in a different colour to represent a single young person and the emphasis on tailored support and developing the individual.
During this decade St Basils became the first Housing Association to achieve the highest ranking by the Audit Commission following inspection, received the Housing Corporation GOLD Award in 2006, became an RSL national Centre of Excellence in the National Youth Homelessness Scheme 2007-2009, became a Level A Supporting People provider and achieved consecutive Investors in People Awards in 2005, 2008, 2011 (and 2014).
"Proud of our continuous development since the days of our first nightshelter in St Basils Church in 1972, we are also saddened that currently youth homelessness is increasing nationally.... Whenever there are pressures on families, there are impacts on young people. Much is now known about the routes into homelessness and the barriers to overcome in moving on from homelessness. Much is also known about what works and what does not, informed by good practice, outcome monitoring and young people’s evidence. St Basils works with others to tackle and prevent youth homelessness and we continue to tackle the issues with the help and advice of young people themselves, and with long standing and new partners and supporters who believe like us that 'homelessness should not be 'part of growing up'."
Jean Templeton, St Basils Chief Executive, Statement for St Basils 40th anniversary Review in 2012
2002 - 2012
During this decade St Basils extended it's services to reach more young people and opened more supported accommodation projects, bringing the total number to 27 by 2012, enabling young people to stay near their local support networks.
In 2002, St Basils founded the Schools Training and Mentoring Project (STaMP) - award winning work with schools and peer mentors, aimed at raising awareness with school age children as to the causes of youth homelessness and where to get help and advice before problems escalate. STaMP remains to this day a crucial part of our homelessness prevention services.
In 2003 St Basils received short term funding to launch a Floating Support project specifically aimed at supporting Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual young people.
in 2004, whilst 'Life Skills' - teaching young people cooking, washing, budgeting etc had always been a part of the support St Basils had provided to residents, St Basils launched an accredited Life Skills programme to train young people in Life Skills, adhering to a recognised standard across all projects. Our OCN accredited Life Skills programme has gone from strength to strength and now finishes with a Cap and Gown Graduation Ceremony to celebrate young people's achievements.
In 2004 St Basils housing advice service 'The Link' moved to Ryder Street, at the end of Corporation Street in Birmingham City Centre. In 2010 in partnership with Birmingham City Council and 5 other providers, the Youth Hub opened in Fazeley Street close to St Basils HQ and in 2012 moved again back to St Basils Church on Heath Mill Lane where St Basils services to young people had originated. Key staff departments who had been based in offices in the converted Church moved to the Arch offices opposite.
In 2005, in line with its 'Young People First' priority, St Basils set up a 'Youth Advisory Board" giving 15 of St Basils young people a chance to form their own board to advise the main board and Chief Executive on changes to services and give young people at St Basils a voice on how the organisation should be run. The innovative scheme won the National Housing Federation Award in 2005 for Customer Engagement and 7 years later won the Birmingham City Housing Partnership Resident Involvement Award in 2012. In 2008 St Basils was asked to facilitate the National Youth Reference Group, which was based on a similar model. In 2014 the YAB has now been expanded and renamed the Youth Council. This extended group includes Resident Representatives, forging stronger links to each of the projects.
In 2005, St Basils took over management of Beoley Court and a neighbouring property providing 28 units in partnership with Redditch MBC. This was St Basils first project in North Worcestershire. Services were later extended to Bromsgrove, Kidderminster and the Wyre Forest (2009-2011)
In 2006, St Basils Staff and residents at The New Boot moved out to another property whilst major refurbishment got underway. This was completed in 2007. The refurbishment increased the capacity from 21 bedsits to 25 individual flats. Improvements included larger fully furnished rooms with en-suite bathrooms as well as an ICT training room, training kitchen and a fitness suite as well as a more welcoming reception and added security and safety features.
The official reopening was held in 2008, opened by Jean Milner, the project was renamed 'Milner Court' in memory of St Basils' late founder, Revd Les Milner, who had sadly passed away in 2002.
In 2009 Carole Gething House was also refurbished, extended and remodelled to provide self contained accommodation.
In 2009 St Basils was awarded contracts to provide services to homeless young people across Redditch, Bromsgrove and Kidderminster. In partnership with the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA) and West Mercia Housing Group, a new Foyer was built in New Road in Bromsgrove to provide accommodation and training facilities for 15 young people. An emergency accommodation scheme was opened for a few years in Kidderminster but this was later replaced with a purpose built foyer in Kidderminster, building on the success of the Bromsgrove partnership and model.
In 2010, St Basils received funding to set up a Supported Lodgings scheme called Home2Home for young care leavers, giving them the opportunity to lodge with members of the public living in Birmingham and experience a family environment. St Basils later secured funding to provide similar projects in North Worcestershire and Solihull from 2012.
In 2010 ‘Youthline’ and The Youth Hub were set up to provide advice and face to face assessments to all young people at risk of homelessness in Birmingham, in partnership with 6 other agencies.
In 2011, recognising that the best way to provide stability moving forwards would be to purchase accommodation, St Basils used its reserves and a deferred payment system to purchase its largest project yet, Brandon Thomas Court in Aston (later renamed John Austin Court after Chair of St Basils from 2000-2005) providing 41 units.
In 2011, St Basils secured funding to provide a Private Rental Scheme named mYPlace for 3 years within the Wyre Forest area, helping young people moving on from supported accommodation to access the private rental sector rather than just social landlords.
In 2012 mYPlace secured 3 years of funding to expand to Bromsgrove and Redditch. Our Home2Home Supported Lodgings scheme secured funding to expand into North Worcestershire and Solihull.