FRIENDS Georgina Smith and Lauren Cassidy say they feel like they have a fresh start in life after moving into the new Portsmouth Foyer building.
The hostel on Greetham Street, Southsea, provides housing for young people from disadvantaged and troubled backgrounds.
It offers a secure home to 54 young people as well as support services to help them with personal development and a job.
The state-of-the-art building, with its pool tables and computer stations, is a far cry from the former run-down and dated building in Edinburgh Road, Landport.
Resident Georgina, 17, lived with her sister for a while after fleeing a violent relationship before she moved into the Foyer.
She said: ‘I love it here, it’s so peaceful. There used to be loads of fights in the old building but people seem much more relaxed here.
‘I didn’t feel safe in the old place, even though there were locks on the doors. People used to burgle each other, and everything was broken. It was horrible.
‘It feels like moving in here has given me another chance in life. The last place was like a hostel, but this place is so nice – it’s a fresh start.’
The building was designed with the help of young people’s ideas and together the residents chose the colour scheme on each floor of the six-storey building.
It also boasts many sustainable features, including a grass roof to collect water and photovoltaic panels which produce electricity for the building.
Lauren, 17, moved into the Foyer after being asked to leave her grandfather’s house, having previously been asked to move out of her mum’s house.
She said: ‘Things are a lot better for me now that I’m living here. I think the stability of it all has really helped.
‘I feel like I have better life skills and I’m starting to stand on my own two feet.
‘It wasn’t like that in the old building because it was so disgusting I just wanted to get out of there most of the time.
‘Now I’m finding it much easier to socialise with people. I feel like I can start to relax and have a good time.’
As well as the 54 one-bed apartments, there are a number of training rooms within the new building, designed specifically for the centre’s education, training and employment programmes.