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Young Carlisle homeless will have a safe place to stay this Christmas

Carlisle Christmas Story: Representatives from Story Contracting handing over gifts and a cheque to Carlisle Key

Young people experiencing homelessness will have a roof over their heads this Christmas thanks to the work of a Carlisle charity and its supporters.

Carlisle Key works with young people aged 16-25 who are homeless or at risk of homelessness. Its first housing project opened this week in the city centre after a mammoth effort from staff, volunteers and businesses.

It means six young people will have somewhere safe to call home this Christmas after the house was renovated and decorated. A second property offering supported living accommodation to another five 16 to 25-year-olds is set to open in the new year.

Iain McNee, operations manager with Carlisle Key, said that without that support more vulnerable young people would have found themselves sleeping on sofas, floors or, in the worst situations, on the streets this Christmas.

He said: “This is such an important service. A lot of people don’t have things that we take for granted.

“The young people who are moving in are very happy to be here, it’s a really nice house.”

Carlisle-headquartered infrastructure company Story Contracting has donated resource throughout the year to ensure the project would open in time for Christmas.

And with the support of Capita and Carlisle Tri Club, it’s also gifted £1,000 in cash and lots of household items.

Mr McNee said: “They have been so supportive. They came down and gave us money and furnishings for the property, bed sheets, towels and kettles, just everyday items that people need.

“But they’ve backed us right through the year with the time that they’ve given. Stripping plaster, painting and decorating – all sorts really. They’re a really handy team!

“They brought a new TV for the lounge and then they even came down and fitted the brackets so people could watch it. It’s all made such a difference.”

Donations of household goods were provided by staff members inspired by the company’s wish to ‘be a good neighbour’ in the areas it operates.

Earlier in the year around 50 employees from Story Contracting and sister company Story Homes spent time clearing gardens, stripping wallpaper and creating a project programme for the refurbishment.

Jason Butterworth, CEO of Story Contracting, said: “Christmas can be a joyful time of year for most of us but for those who are struggling or having a difficult time, it can be extremely challenging – especially to be without a home during the bitterly cold winter months.

“As a business, Story Contracting endeavours to be a good neighbour and we understand the importance of taking the time to give something back to the communities of which we are a part.

“We are proud to support vital charities and to see first-hand the positive impacts they have. Providing care for those who are less fortunate and bringing them some much-needed hope this winter is something Story is passionate about supporting.”

Carlisle Key is based on Fisher Street in Carlisle city centre. Anyone aged 16-25 who is experiencing problems relating to housing can access the drop-in service without an appointment between 12.30pm and 3.30pm, Monday to Friday. On Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year’s Day they can be contacted via their Facebook page or email [email protected]

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