THE Mayor of Havant enjoyed a tasty buffet prepared by youngsters at a new home for young people.
Councillor Ken Smith was the guest of honour at the opening ceremony of the Hillcrest home for boys aged 14 to 19 at Beachlands, Hayling Island.
The home is a converted house which is specifically for youngsters with emotional and behavioural difficulties who are getting ready to leave the care of the local authority and make their own way in the world.
They each stay until the home manager James Barlow feels they have learned the skills they need to prepare them for life on their own. That can be for up to five years.
Cllr Smith was joined by neighbours of the property at the opening ceremony last week.
Cllr Smith said: ‘We were told they look after the children until they think they are ready to go and live by themselves.
‘The three boys we met were absolutely great.
‘They will really enjoy living in Hayling, it’s a lovely place.
‘Some of them have curfews but they are allowed to bring local friends into the house as long as they behave themselves.
‘My wife Hazel and I had a really good chat with the owners and managers and we feel they have set it up really well. They will be very happy there and I wish them all well.’
Although the house sleeps six young people only three are there at the moment and they were on hand to show the visitors round the newly-refurbished building.
The home has large living and dining areas with modern furnishings.
Each young person’s room has been decorated to their own individual tastes.
Everyone in the house does their own washing and shopping and cooks their own meals.
While they are living at Beachlands they are taught the necessary skills to help them live independently.
Manager Mr Barlow said: ‘It’s been going really well.
‘The boys have settled in excellently.
‘They are loving being by the beach and the local community. It’s been really positive for them.
‘Two of our boys lived on Hayling before but the other hadn’t and he is really enjoying it.
‘We’ve set ourselves up to be a long-term placement.
‘We spent about four months completely renovating the house because it was in a sorry state and needed a lot of work doing to it.
‘We completely redesigned the layout inside and it looks great.’