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Hebrides News


Lewis youth, Megan Shaw, has turned her life around thanks to Western Isles Foyer.


The 23-year-old is one of scores taking control for themselves with support years from the local charity which supports homeless young people.


Foyer works with a wide variety of young people without a home including young people who are leaving care placements, locally or on the mainland, or who are unable to remain at home with their parents or carers.


Megan said: “Foyer were the light I needed to guide me through the darkness.”


In the New Year, Megan is set to take the big step of moving out of supported accommodation she has been in for the past four years to take on her own permanent tenancy with Hebridean Housing Partnership.


She started a job with Who Cares Scotland in August and recently won the Saltire Young Volunteer of the Year award in recognition of her volunteering contribution with Alzheimer Scotland.


“I was actually really chuffed,” she admitted. “I’m rather proud, to be honest.”


It’s a far cry from when she first came to Foyer, fresh out of the care system and lacking any confidence whatsoever. But they were there for her every step of the way, even physically helping her move in on the day she took up her tenancy with them.


“It was really good. I came to Foyer every day for support. They helped me with budgeting, cooking and cleaning and how to make a home nice. They helped me start to change.”


Megan successfully completed two college courses and is now working with Who Cares Scotland as a participation assistant, a job for which she is qualified due to her own experiences of care.


“I’m reaching out to young people that are in care or are care experienced and allowing them to have a voice.


“Some of them don’t feel they have a voice because of all the stigma around being in care.”


Megan said Foyer’s support was “massive.”


“When I came here first, I was really withdrawn. I was really shy. I was struggling with depression and all that.


“My confidence was rock bottom. I didn’t have any self-esteem but, through their support with accommodation and college, I’ve developed and now I am a lot more confident.”


Homelessness is hidden problem in the Western Isles - people do not sleep rough on the streets yet many have no home to call their own and end up sofa surfing or living in temporary accommodation.


Foyer has ten one-bedroom flats and helps young people cope with managing to live independently.


Over the last year it supported more than 75 young people across all its services.


A Monday to Friday drop-in service is run from the charity’s base at 36 Bayhead in Stornoway.


Foyer also run monthly service user nights and invite guest speakers along to talk about issues relevant to the young people. The events are aimed at reducing social isolation and encouraging positive peer networks.


►  Foyer helped by windfarm donation  






Youth homelessness in the Western Isles: How Megan received help to turn her life around  

By Katie Laing

29 December 2016

Megan won an award for volunteering