Final Funding Push for YMCA Exeter’s Affordable Housing for Young People Using Church Land
An ambitious £2.7 million project to turn an abandoned warehouse into 26 studio flats for young people has passed its halfway point but still needs to raise a final £225,000.
Sidwell Studios is being built by YMCA Exeter to help tackle the serious lack of affordable housing in the city.
Part of the land is owned by the Church of England and the main entrance for the accommodation will be through St Sidwell’s churchyard.
Thanks to significant investment from Homes England, Exeter City Council and many others, YMCA Exeter has already raised 85% of the costs, but they still need to raise a final £225,000 to complete the Sidwell Studios project and they’re inviting churches across Devon to support it by contributing to its Established  campaign.
Being located next door to St Sidwell’s Community Centre provides the opportunity for YMCA Exeter residents to join in with many local community initiatives including volunteering at the adjoining allotment and community cafe.
Si Johns, the joint CEO of YMCA Exeter, said “It’s great to be working on this new development in partnership with Exeter Diocese so that together we can support young people to become embedded in the community.”
In the last year alone, the housing need in the city has increased by a further 24%, with over 350 local young people waiting for 1-bed accommodation.
Earlier this year, the Church of England’s Coming Home report said The Church needed to do more to help solve the housing crisis and should lead by example by building affordable homes on its own land, where possible.
The Bishop of Exeter, the Right Reverend Robert Atwell, who is president of YMCA Exeter, said “It’s great seeing this development going up.
“It’s us as a diocese, working in partnership with others in the city. I am so proud to be the President of the YMCA here.
“It’s so important to give young people a home and security and a step-up in life.”
Abby*, a YMCA Exeter resident, said “I grew up in a very toxic environment and it took me a long time to move out of home because I couldn’t afford private, rented accommodation.
“My parents always told me that I could never do anything by myself, but, thanks to YMCA Exeter’s supported accommodation, I’m beginning to follow my dream to work in bio sciences.
“The new Sidwell Studios development will give local young people the chance to live in the centre of town and access more opportunities.”
Being located next door to St Sidwell’s Community Centre, young people like Abby will also be able to join in with many local community initiatives including volunteering at the adjoining allotment and community cafe.
The first new residents of the apartments are hoping to move in by Easter 2022.