HOMELESS young people in the Kidderminster area are being given a stepping stone to get their lives back on track thanks to a new £2.2million centre.

The Kidderminster Foyer provides accommodation for 19 people aged 16 to 25, who are given help to find work, education and training.

It also offers a base where they can learn the skills to help them live independently.

Local councillors, supporters and volunteers joined the young residents at the official opening of the Foyer in Bromsgrove Street.

The scheme was funded by WM Housing, with contributions from the Homes and Communities Agency, Wyre Forest District Council and Worcestershire County Council.

Support for the youngsters is supplied by the St Basils charity for the homeless, commissioned by the county council's Future Lives programme.

The Foyer includes a kitchen and ICT training room so staff can teach young people how to cook healthy meals on a budget and aid them in job searches and applying for opportunities.

Young people from St Basils, working as apprentices for Bullock Construction, helped to built the development.

St Basils has been working to prevent youth homelessness in North Worcestershire since 2005 and in Kidderminster since 2010.

Jean Templeton, chief executive of St Basils, spoke first at the opening celebration, said: "Nationally, regionally and locally young people tell us that what they need from us is the support to build skills and access work opportunities because they don’t want to be on benefits.

"This scheme provides a safe and inspiring space where young people can settle and reconnect with education, training and employment opportunities whilst developing independent living skills."

Conservative Liz Eyre, county council lead member for children's services, said: "There is nothing more desperate than not having a roof over your head or somewhere safe to go.

"What I want to do as cabinet member for children and families is ensure young people don’t get into this situation in the first place but where it’s not possible to always make sure there is a fail-safe for emergencies so I am really supportive of this project."