South East


Located a stone’s throw from the beach in Hastings, Xtrax works with young people to develop long-term stability. Amongst other things, they offer support with housing, finding the right education or training, securing a job, managing personal finances and mental health.

In 2010 the charity received their first Lloyds Bank Foundation grant, for £20,000 over two years. They were later awarded £75,000 over three years, and approval for continuation funding in 2017 brought their second grant to an extended total of £150,000 over six years.

The charity’s flagship project is its drop-in centre, which is open three afternoons and evenings a week. Its core costs are funded by the Lloyds Bank Foundation grant. Senior Project Coordinator Ian Gallagher explains why the funding is so important:

“What our Lloyds Bank Foundation grant does is keep the doors open. It means rent paid, food in the kitchen, showers working and so on. We do put in bids for specific projects but without the core costs grant, we wouldn’t have the foundations to run those projects.”

Ian believes the drop-in is vital because young people in Hastings need a physical place to meet up and socialise:

“Young people need somewhere safe to go. Whether it’s a 17-year-old with mental health issues or a 24-year-old who’s done three years in the army and three years in prison, everyone need someone to keep an eye on them and make sure they’re safe.”

Some people who come to the drop-in need additional support. Chloe says that Xtrax staff accompany her to external appointments she otherwise might not attend:

“I’ve had issues with my daughter’s father and I’ve been meeting with domestic abuse agencies, but he lives close to us, so I don’t like going out of my house on my own. Ian meets me at my house and walks me to every appointment, then walks me back afterwards, so I don’t have to face it by myself.”

She has also benefitted from further support:

“I’d been sofa surfing for ages but when I told them here, they phoned the council for me and got me a room within six weeks. A few months after that, they helped me with my mental health too. They’re amazing here.”

Like Chloe, Ellen* is grateful to Xtrax for their mental health support. Although she was accessing Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services, her complex needs meant she needed additional support, which is where Xtrax Project Worker Brandon stepped in. She says:

“I meet up with Brandon every week and we talk. I tell him all my problems and I feel better afterwards, because he listens, even if he can’t fix things.”

Xtrax staff also advocates for its service users with statutory services and institutions including the local college and Hastings Council. Ian explains:

It can be quite daunting for a young person to go and be interrogated about their circumstances, having to show the paperwork to back it up. Many of our young people here are care leavers, or their parents can’t help with the paperwork, but we have relationships with these places, so we know how to help.”

Xtrax doesn’t receive any government or council funding. Ian emphasises that alongside their grants from Lloyds Bank Foundation, the charity also relies heavily on volunteers:

“We couldn’t function without our volunteers – we couldn’t afford to have enough paid staff to do what we do.”

Dan, who has been coming to Xtrax for two years, says the staff and volunteers at the centre are “the only people I can talk to”:

“I have a lot to thank them for. They don’t judge, they sit and listen and help. Without this place I’d be stuck; I’d be very lost. I’m alright on my own to a point, but past that I struggle and without Xtrax over the last two years I’d have been in meltdown. This is basically a family, and we stick together.”


* Name has been changed