TWO former residents of Worcester’s YMCA, who were banned from the hostel, say conditions there were appalling – but the charity says there are ‘robust procedures’ to protect people.

The ‘whistleblowers’, who did not wish to be named, said they “wouldn’t even put a dog in there”, describing ‘prisoner-of-war-like’ conditions, including issues with staff, drug dealing, mouldy food and a rat infestation.

After their complaints, an investigation was carried out by the city and county councils.

But a YMCA spokesman said “no formal complaints” have been made regarding allegations made by the duo, adding: “It is clear that a number being reported are unfounded and untrue.”

Leaked photos show the extent of the dilapidated building and unhygienic conditions vulnerable youths and adults are forced to live in at the facility.

One image shows heroin paraphernalia and the whistleblowers claim the class A drug, as well as others like cocaine and cannabis, are often used and dealt on site.

The pair, aged 18 and 19, claim they were evicted from the Henwick Road site after it became known they were raising concerns with the city and county councils in November.

They claim they have been subsequently banned from the YMCA for life – alleging false allegations were made against them.

They say one was accused of attacking a staff member, but was not allowed to view CCTV footage, and the other alleges he was told to pay rent arrears he didn’t owe in a matter of hours.

One of the former residents, a 19-year-old girl, originally from Redditch, told the Worcester News: “There needs to be more support for residents in there. They need better staff members, the food needs to be up to scratch, you can’t give mouldy food to someone.

“The building is not safe at all. There are holes all over the building, the showers have mould.

“There’s rats in the kitchen, the food is all out of date.”

She added: “The repairs of the building need sorting – the mould, the rats, it’s just generally unsafe.

“I wouldn’t even put a dog in there, it’s that unsafe.”

During her time at the YMCA, which began in May last year, she was also working full-time as a carer, which meant she had to commute out of the city, and often missed the scheduled evening meal.

Instead she was told to get food out of the freezers, though “all the frozen stuff is dated four or five months out of date.”

The other whistleblower, an 18-year-old male who moved into the facility in February last year, said “there’s holes where the rats have chewed” in the canteen.

One photo shows a hole in a ceiling, where rats were often seen passing through, they claim.

He now has to use an inhaler after ending up “in hospital a few times with bad chest infections” due to his window not closing properly, and says his room was often full of wasps from a nest outside.

The two residents said the YMCA takes nearly £300 a week from benefits and 40 per cent of any income if they are working, as well as a £75 top-up every fortnight.

Washing machines and cookers were mostly broken, they said, and there was one TV and two Apple Macs for all residents – estimated to total around 750, aged from 16 years upwards.

Activities on offer were football for males only and arts and crafts for females only, with sessions held once a week, they claimed.

While any residents caught persistently out of bed after night-time ‘lockdown’ were forced to sleep on the floor next to the main reception “with a yoga mat and a sleeping bag that hasn’t been washed”, said the female whistleblower.

The man claimed his room was searched several times over a two-week period, “even though there was no suspicion” and staff “never found anything in there that I had that I shouldn’t have.”

He suffers from anxiety and other mental health problems which means he is unable to undertake full-time work and education.

He went on to say that, while temporary agency staff were not supposed to be left alone, this often happened.

The teenager says when he went to get help for a resident “threatening to do something to themselves in their room” there was only a temporary night staff member on site, who told him: “I haven’t had any training, I don’t know what I’m doing, so I can’t help you.” The male whistleblower said there had been several occasions when visitors of other residents had “smashed windows in” and “assaulted staff members” and received a temporary ban.

While he and the other whistleblower are banned for life “for telling the council about the building.”

A joint statement from the city and county council said: “Two young people contacted the city council’s housing team with regard to conditions at the YMCA in November 2018.

“As a result, the head of the housing team met with the county council’s children’s services team that month, as it has contracts in place with YMCA for the provision of some young people’s services. “The county council agreed to investigate all the points which were raised.”

The spokesman went on to say: “Worcestershire County Council carried out a full review of the YMCA provision.

“An agreed action plan was put in place to respond to improvements identified. This is reviewed on a regular basis through visits to the premises and monitoring.”

The YMCA spokesman said: “YMCA Worcestershire has strict and robust procedures that ensure the wellbeing of all residents and staff.

“Providing safe and supported accommodation is of paramount importance and at our last review the city and county council were satisfied with our facilities and provision.

“It is disappointing to see that the hard work and dedication of our staff is being called into question by some disgruntled individuals.

“We would encourage the public to visit our YMCA and see the transformational work we do turning young people’s lives around.”