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Support Service Gorwel Wins Big at Major Housing and Homelessness Awards

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A community group set up to support formerly homeless young people in Denbigh has scooped a major housing related support award.

The Youth Shedz project, which was established by people aged between 16-25 working with support service Gorwel, won the learning and work award at Cymorth Cymru’s Promoting Independence Awards.

A Gorwel service user was also presented with a Cymorth Cymru personal achievement award for overcoming sexual abuse and subsequent mental health issues to enrol into college education.

The awards, which are in their 12th year, recognise achievements related to homelessness and housing in Wales’ support sector, with Gorwel the only support service to win two awards in two different categories on the night.

The Youth Shed came out top of its category after judges praised its youth-led culture, engagement with the local community, and its success in developing positive relationships.

The project started in September 2017 to help youngsters from the Denbigh area build confidence by taking charge of former garage space to establish the shed.

More than 20 teenagers and young adults, known as ‘Shedderz’, have been engaged in activities at Youth Shedz in Denbigh, Colwyn Bay, and Kinmel Bay, including woodwork and furniture restoration, and encouraged to make decisions about the project’s development.

Members of the shed have also visited secondary school pupils to raise awareness of its work, and share their stories of how education has helped improve their lives.

The scheme has led to a reduction in anti social behaviour within the group, as well as improved self-esteem and social capabilities.

And the shed’s success is down to putting people first, says Youth Shedz mentor Scott Jenkinson.

He said:

“The shed started up when I asked some young adults working with Gorwel to research anti-social behaviour.

“They had an idea to provide the younger generation with a safe space to be productive, and have since set up more sheds in Colwyn Bay and Kinmel Bay.

“It’s gone from a simple research task to being a fully fledged charity that’s been discussed in the National Assembly of Wales, and the Shedderz fully deserve this award in recognition of all their hard work.”

Gorwel assistant manager Osian Ellis added:

“The project’s aim is to empower young people by giving them the reigns in every decision-making process within the shed.

“Their leadership skills have been developed by taking part in vocational courses, including first aid training, which has enhanced their employability.

“The shed promotes inclusion and has a real sense of community, and has also helped a number of the Shedderz engage in something positive and potentially life changing.”

The project involved service users from Hafod, a supported housing scheme for young people aged 16-25 in Denbigh.

Gorwel’s service user was recognised with Cymorth Cymru’s personal achievement award, having spoken out against abusers, and acted as a vital witness in criminal trials.

Today, in what has been described as ‘a dream come true’, the service user is studying an animal management course.

Gorwel, which is a business unit within North Wales-based housing association Grŵp Cynefin, provides support to the homeless, victims of domestic abuse, and people over 55 who need help to continue living independently, across Gwynedd, Anglesey and Denbighshire.

Around 90 per cent of its funding comes from the Welsh Government’s Supporting People programme, which gives housing-related support to help vulnerable people live as independently as possible.