A therapeutic facility dedicated to helping struggling children in Jersey will be closing down at the end of December, with the charity behind the project blaming a lack of support from the Government.
Drug and alcohol rehabilitation charity, Silkworth, opened ‘Hope House’ in March in the former Brig-Y-Don children’s home to provide a four-week therapeutic residential programme for young people experiencing emotional distress or struggling with addiction, mental health issues and eating disorders.
The charity spent five years and £250,000 on the project, after identifying a need through its work with islanders.
But in July, Express revealed that after welcoming several children referred by social workers in the weeks following its opening, the referrals stopped following what the charity believes was a sudden and unexplained "directive" from Children's Services - leading both Silkworth, and the Children's Commissioner, to raise the alarm.
Pictured: 'Hope House’ opened in March in the former Brig-Y-Don children's home.
The charity’s CEO, Jason Wyse, said the issue not only concerned the children that fall under the Children Minister’s responsibility as a ‘looked after child', but also all those who are at “the lower end of the mental health tier”, as Hope House could “ultimately prevent them from slipping into more serious mental health issues."
A local lawyer, Advocate Darry Robinson, who specialises in children’s care proceedings, as well as politicians, also raised questions about the lack of referrals from the Government. Advocate Robinson also said the Children's Minister, Deputy Scott Wickenden, had “side-stepped” questions about the use of Hope House by answering in a way that only drew distinctions between Greenfields and Hope House, rather than explaining whether any consideration had been given to using the therapeutic facility in some cases.
“As a therapeutic-focused accommodation, Hope House is better able to address the causes of the offending communicated by the children in the behaviour which has led to the requirement for an accommodation order," he said.
“Perhaps then the reason for the failure to place children in Hope House is not a failure in the recognition of the difference in the facilities, but a failure to recognise why the distinction is so important.”
Pictured: The facility was created to provide a four-week therapeutic residential programme for young people experiencing emotional distress or struggling with addiction, mental health issues and eating disorders.
While the Government didn’t answer questions about why referrals to Hope House had stopped, they provided a statement from a spokesperson who said Hope House was registered with the Jersey Care Commission as a “Children's Care Home to deliver a specific 28-day programme” and that “detailed discussions” were underway to determine if Hope House could meet some of the “identified needs of children and young people in the Care of the Minister”.
"It is in this context that discussions with Hope House are ongoing,” he added.
They also added they were aiming to develop a “small therapeutic children's home to provide specialist support on-Island as an alternative to off-island care”.
However, Silkworth Chair and Founder, Frank Laine MBE, said nothing had happened since the statement was provided and no one had been referred to Hope House, although people referred themselves independently.
Jason Wyse added: “Unfortunately despite all of our efforts to promote and engage our service within CYPES and CAMMS, the offering that we had at Hope House does not fit into the priorities that have been identified by them and has therefore made it impossible for us to access the 100’s of young people that are experiencing mental health issues due to the gate keeper approach that is adopted by the services that fall under the control of Government.”
Pictured: "It’s a crying shame that the people who are on Robin Ward and Orchard House have missed the opportunity of this facility," Mr Laine said.
Both said it had been “an extremely difficult decision” to decide to close but that they were unable to continue operating Hope House as a residential facility as they couldn’t justify “the cost and expense” without regular referrals that would see young people and their families being given the option to at least consider it.
“Without the same buy in and support of Government and in particular, CYPES, that was originally given to us before we proceeded with this project, it has become impossible for us to continue,” Mr Wyse said.
“We have had so much professional and financial support for this initiative, which has provided young islanders with a much-needed opportunity to move forward in their lives in a healthier way. Silkteen at Hope House in my opinion was just ahead of its time for Jersey and I would expect in years to come that this very offering will be sought after.”
“We were not doing it for cash, we were doing it because we saw the need,” Mr Laine added.
“We spent five years building the team, putting this programme together and finding the appropriate property, we found one, we refurbished it to a high standard.
“It’s a shame because this building could not be more perfect. It’s a disgrace, Jersey deserves better, our children, your youngsters deserve better.
“We love the island, we value what we’ve got but this is an opportunity that has slipped past them. Those people are misguided, and they do not understand. It’s a crying shame that the people who are on Robin Ward and Orchard House have missed the opportunity of this facility.”
Pictured: Mr Wyse said Silkworth will continue to offer that support to those that have engaged in the Hope House Facility.
Mr Wyse said that since opening in March, Hope House has provided “education, therapeutic support and guidance” to a number of young islanders who benefited from the residential programme.
“We will continue to offer that support to those that have engaged in the Hope House Facility in order that a continuum of care is carried on for them,” he said.
“Going forward we hold on to the positive fact that we were able to reach out to a number of young islanders and their families and give them the advice, support and guidance that they needed in within a residential offering. The programme that we have invested considerable time, effort and funds into will not be wasted and we are now looking at how this can be adapted in order that we can consider offering something different that would not necessarily be on a residential basis.”
Questioned as to whether Hope House might stay open if the Government changed its policy, Mr Laine said it was too late as the charity had already started the exit process from the property and made the team of six specialists redundant.
“We are closing, at the end of December, we are vacating the premises.”
Express spoke to Silkworth CEO Jason Wyse about his concerns that Government 'gatekeeping' is stopping the island's most vulnerable children access the best quality therapeutic care...
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