Established 2005 Registered Charity No. 1110656

Scottish Charity Register No. SC043760

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On a firm footing

March 03 2010
We profile Rock Trust, a charity specifically designed to help homeless 16-25-year-olds In 1991, after a group of Edinburgh churches organising soup-runs were shocked to see young adults without food and shelter, the Rock Trust was set up, and became a key service for Edinburgh's youth.

With a dedicated team of 30 staff, it works to prevent homelessness on two main fronts: Bedrock and Youth Development. Bedrock covers the basic requirements of young homeless people by providing accommodation around the city for up to 60 people. Tenants can stay in the flats for two years and are given regular support in money management, safe and healthy living, and planning for the future. On leaving the project, service users can receive assistance for a further two years to help make a success of new private tenancies. 

The long-term presence and support in the lives of the young homeless is also a key aspect of the Youth Development wing. The Trust offers different inroads with service users, allowing them to progress at their own pace. There are plenty of opportunities to meet new people, improve social skills and enjoy a variety of activities.

Steven Clarke, a support worker with the Rock Trust, explains the work of the Youth Development team: "The drop-ins are our liveliest time and are geared for a social atmosphere. We run three a week, Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays, and we're usually full. There's the offer of free meals and volunteering in the kitchen. Young people who come along can use the Internet and our phones. We also play pool and games on the Wii, and there are facilities to have a shower and do laundry."

The Trust also works extensively with young adults on a one-to-one basis, with Crisis Time held seven days a week from 9am to 11am. Clarke said, "Between these times, we operate an open door policy. Individuals can talk to staff confidentially. We keep this service separate from the drop-ins so that people can get as much time as they need."

In addition to these regular arrangements, there is a Networks group working closely with more vulnerable youths who want to improve core social skills. Through encouraging participation in different projects, the Networks branch aim to build confidence. Amanda Skinner has worked with the team for two years and is currently leading a Graffiti session at Northfield Community Centre: "The young people can be socially isolated for many reasons, such as moving around a lot and the breakdown of family relationships. We try to reduce the anxiety of being around other young people, and help people communicate effectively with peers and with ourselves. The Graffiti sessions are a way for people to express what they think of different social networks, such as friendships and the meaning of community."

Following the ‘whole process' is an essential theme of the Rock Trust, with feedback playing a key role in all activities. The young homeless complete regular questionnaires and recently a service user involvement group have presented their thoughts to Trust board members. Skinner said "Everything we do at the Rock Trust is led by the young people who come here. The Graffiti project was started because service users chose it as their favourite taster-session."

With the Trust always looking to increase its services, a recent care commission boost has enabled volunteers to set up Night Stop, in partnership with Streetwork. Night Stop, the first of its kind in a Scottish city, allows young people who are struggling with their living arrangements to get a few nights' respite by staying with a trained host. The trust receive referrals from other support organisations such as Amber Mediation, and following a reference check, find an available host for the young person requiring a bed. The aim is to provide a safety net for youngsters who are experiencing difficulties in their current homes, and hopefully prevent them from sleeping rough.

Steven Clarke has seen the project develop in the early stages and believes it is destined for success: "The idea is to offer a bit of relief for people who need breathing space and a few days out of their current home. The host provides access to a bed, shower and food. Chatting is optional, and so far it's working"

As well as providing somewhere to stay the trust and its partners give support to the referred individual to try and find a long-term solution to problems. Recruitment drives are being held to find more hosts and the service is set to expand over the next year.

The future is bright at The Rock Trust and this is good news for the young persons benefiting from its services. Through partnership in all it does and an open mind to new ideas, the Rock Trust is set to keep growing. As it bowls towards its third decade, there's certainly no moss on this rolling stone.