Ellie Goulding challenges the stigma of homelessness as she backs The Independent's helpline appeal

The singer says homelessness ‘could happen to any of us’

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The Independent Online

The singer Ellie Goulding has challenged those who “stigmatise” the homeless to change their views and do their bit to tackle the issue.

Backing The Independent and Centrepoint’s Young and Homeless Helpline appeal, the singer, who has been volunteering at homeless centres since 2011, said many people still mistakenly believed that most homeless young people were on the streets because of drug and alcohol abuse.

She said: “There is a stigma of what a homeless person is – that they abuse drugs or abuse alcohol. It’s just not true.

“I know there are a lot of young people out there who are on the verge of homelessness because they might be having trouble at home or having an issue with a family member, or even more seriously with domestic violence.

“Some people come from very normal backgrounds, very normal situations and something goes wrong. It can be as small as a family break-up, or not getting on with your dad or your mum. It could happen to any of us.

“And getting back out of that situation is hard.” 

She added: “There is definitely a misconception over homelessness. When people think of homeless people, they probably think of a male, someone who’s a bit older. In reality, homelessness is something that affects a lot of young people.

If people were more willing to understand the reality of homelessness, the singer said, they might find there were things that they could do about it.

It could be as simple as sparing a bit of time to speak to someone they see sleeping rough on the streets, she said. The human interaction, said the singer, could be as valuable as any spare change that someone might hand over.

She said: “If you become more open to the problem and don’t turn your back on it, you suddenly realise there is a lot you can do.

“It’s important to remember that interaction with a person is really valuable. Just stopping and talking and giving a bit of time to somebody – people can forget how important that can be.

“I would like to just ask for people to be on the lookout. It’s freezing cold at the moment – please do stop, give whatever change you have – that moment of interaction really is valuable.”

It is far from the first time that the 29-year-old singer has spoken out in support of the homeless.

In June last year, she joined a campaign that succeeded in getting Hackney Council to amend an order that had threatened rough sleepers with a £100 fixed penalty if they bedded down in certain parts of the London borough.

She has also spoken out against the “disgraceful” practice of anti-homeless spikes being put up in the doorways of some buildings to deter rough sleepers.

The “Love Me Like You Do” singer said this amounted to “treating homeless people like they’re pigeons”.

Backing The Independent’s campaign to raise funds for a national helpline which will advise and assist 16 to 25-year-olds facing homelessness, Goulding said she was surprised such a service didn’t already exist.

She said: “One thing I’ve noticed is that there hasn’t ever been one, unified service and an easy way to get help. At the moment there isn’t a single, coherent source of information for young people to access and go to when they’re in trouble. The Freephone helpline would give people a very clear way to get help, and can be something that is easily accessible.”

Goulding was speaking as she spent time with young people staying at Centrepoint’s Soho hostel, giving them advice and encouragement on how to succeed in the entertainment industry.

She said: “I’ve been meeting young people interested in doing creative things, from aspiring singers to musicians. They were asking for advice and how to get the confidence to perform.

“The hostel is about encouraging them to live independently. Many of them lose their support network, lose their confidence. You might find you no longer have family and friends around you.” 

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