YMCA Exeter is delighted to be welcoming its first residents into the newly converted warehouse off Sidwell Street. The new development, Sidwell Studios, is the start of a groundbreaking initiative to tackle the challenging housing crisis in Exeter.  

Over the last 18 months, the abandoned warehouse has been converted into 26 self-contained studio apartments, each one ready to welcome a local, young person who has come through supported housing and is in need of a permanent home.   

Since 2019, the one-bed housing need has increased by 41% with 558 local young people on the waiting list. YMCA Exeter are delighted to have completed the development thanks to significant investment from both Homes England and Exeter City Council.  

Si Johns, YMCA Exeter Joint CEO says:  

“It’s wonderful to have local, young people moving into their new studio apartments this month. Our vision is to support young people to become embedded in their communities and this month we are celebrating that 26 young people will now have permanent, affordable homes in the heart of Exeter.  

“We couldn’t have completed this development without the support of local businesses, friends and volunteers. It’s been a team effort from start to finish and we’re excited for further opportunities to tackle the housing crisis in the future.”   

The unique housing initiative is based on a model that will help young people to feel embedded in their community, but also be financially safe for them. The new development sits adjacent to St Sidwell’s Community Centre, providing the opportunity for residents to access vocational skills workshops, a community allotment and weekly community meals. 

The monthly rent, which is over £300 less than the market rate, includes all utilities and wifi costs, plus residents do not need to provide an upfront deposit or rent in advance – both of which make independent living impossible for many young people.  

Si Johns, YMCA Exeter Joint Chief Executive, says: 

“We believe that a home should provide safety, retreat, compassion and access to the community. At the heart of our strategy is the vision to ‘move the service rather than the person’, enabling tenants to retain their home when they are ready to live independently.  

“In traditional housing projects, tenants are uprooted when they no longer require support. Yet as many of our residents have been children in care and have experienced this uprooting already several times in their lives, we are providing affordable housing where tenants can stay long-term and in doing so contribute to building a well-balanced community for all.” 

YMCA Exeter resident, 26-year-old Gemma, is delighted to move in:  

“I jumped up and down in the kitchen when I heard I’d got a place. Everyone is so happy for me. I couldn’t have afforded a place in the centre of town with the current market rates, it would have been my whole month’s salary.  

“I’m now going to live closer to my Mum and my employees have offered me the chance to become a shift leader in a local shop. This new place is a dream come true.”  

For many young people, the risk of losing work makes it difficult for them to find rented accommodation. In the new Sidwell Studios, YMCA Exeter tenancy workers will provide early intervention if any tenant starts to struggle to get the tenancy back on track.  

Every year YMCA Exeter provides supported accommodation for over 100 young people coming out of homelessness and needing the support of a loving community to move forward. To find out more visit www.ymcaexeter.org.uk/i-need-support/find-somewhere-to-live/ 

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.