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Council / Residential unit hopes raised after committee

A RESIDENTIAL care unit for young people at Tingwall has taken a step closer to becoming reality after being approved by the council’s Policy and Resources Committee.

The £870,000 building that would be home to several young people requiring support will be close to a development by Hjaltland Housing Association near the Tingwall School and will be procured in partnership with the association. It is to be similar to facilities at Grodians designed to be “domestic” in outlook.

The recommended care unit was one of 13 options in a report considered by the Shetland Islands Council committee on Monday. It is intended to consolidate various single placements into one larger service “which makes more efficient use of staffing”.

The new build would include a bedsit to allow young people who are preparing to leave care to begin developing their independent living skills within a residential setting before moving on.

It will also shave an estimated £263,000 per annum from both the council and Hjaltland’s revenue spend.

George Smith has welcomed the project.

South Mainland Councillor George Smith said that the establishment of the residence would be a “key part of service redesign and this is a really good example of this process.”

He added that young people who found themselves in need of a caring environment were there through no fault of their own and the community should welcome them as part of society.

Shetland West councillor Theo Smith said that he was “quite sure that human nature being as is” there will be questions asked over a lack of consultation.

He had also been “slightly concerned” by its out of town location at Tingwall and the lack of transport to Lerwick which had the majority of amenities.

Children’s resources team leader Jordan Sutherland said that the out of town location was one of the attractions of the Tingwall site. It would give young people the chance to settle into a different community and keep them from “temptation”. As well as that not all the young people needing accommodation were from Lerwick.

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“It is a short distance from Lerwick, but there are benefits there as well,” he added.

The planned development will have to go through the council’s formal planning process even if it passes the committee hurdles – its next hearing will be at the full SIC on 20 February.

North Mainland councillor Alastair Cooper said that there were “costs and benefits that accrue to the community” and that “If we get this right, it will be spot on.”

The development is intended to meet the demand for residential care generated by legislation and reduce the need for out of authority placements

According to the report it has the potential for early delivery by the Hjaltland Housing Association partnership, subject to council decision to proceed by March 2019.

It adds that failure to make adequate provision for Looked After Children creates the risk that more children and young people will be placed outwith Shetland due to a shortage of appropriate residential care places locally.

The numbers of looked after vulnerable children in Shetland have been consistent for about 20 years at about 30, with most looked after at home and about 10 in residence in Shetland and half that many placed off the islands.

It is projected there will be no placements off Shetland by 2022/23.

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