The Duke of Cambridge has told Independent readers they have “the chance to save young lives” as he issued a special message to mark the start of this website’s Christmas Appeal to combat youth homelessness in the UK.
For the appeal, The Independent is partnering with Centrepoint, the youth homeless charity of which Prince William is patron, to help launch a helpline for 16- to 25-year-olds who find themselves either homeless or at risk of homelessness.
“Ending youth homelessness is not just about putting a roof over someone’s head,” the Duke told The Independent. “It’s about teaching a young person to read and write. It’s about helping them to live with the consequences of abuse and neglect. It’s about stopping people becoming homeless in the first place.
“As a society, we will have a duty to help our most vulnerable young people.”
By supporting the helpline, he added, “You have the chance to save young lives.”
“Over the past decade,” he said, “I have met hundreds of courageous and inspiring young people trying to escape homelessness. Unfortunately, their courage alone is not enough.”
The causes of homelessness
The causes of homelessness
1/7 Family Breakdown
Relationship breakdown, usually between young people and their parents or step-parents, is a major cause of youth homelessness. Around six in ten young people who come to Centrepoint say they had to leave home because of arguments, relationship breakdown or being told to leave. Many have experienced long-term problems at home, often involving violence, leaving them without the family support networks that most of us take for granted
2/7 Complex needs
Young people who come to Centrepoint face a range of different and complex problems. More than a third have a mental health issue, such as depression and anxiety, another third need to tackle issues with substance misuse. A similar proportion also need to improve their physical health. These problems often overlap, making it more difficult for young people to access help and increasing the chances of them becoming homeless
Young people's chances of having to leave home are higher in areas of high deprivation and poor prospects for employment and education. Many of those who experience long spells of poverty can get into problem debt, which makes it harder for them to access housing
4/7 Gang Crime
Homeless young people are often affected by gang-related problems. In some cases, it becomes too dangerous to stay in their local area meaning they can end up homeless. One in six young people at Centrepoint have been involved in or affected by gang crime
5/7 Exclusion From School
Not being in education can make it much more difficult for young people to access help with problems at home or health problems. Missing out on formal education can also make it more difficult for them to move into work
6/7 Leaving Care
Almost a quarter of young people at Centrepoint have been in care. They often have little choice but to deal with the challenges and responsibilities of living independently at a young age. Traumas faced in their early lives make care leavers some of the most vulnerable young people in our communities, with higher chances of poor outcomes in education, employment and housing. Their additional needs mean they require a higher level of support to maintain their accommodation
Around 13 per cent of young people at Centrepoint are refugees or have leave to remain, meaning it isn't safe to return home. This includes young people who come to the UK as unaccompanied minors, fleeing violence or persecution in their own country. After being granted asylum, young people sometimes find themselves with nowhere to go and can end up homeless
The money raised in the appeal will help launch the Centrepoint Young and Homeless Helpline, which will be the first such service to deliver vital information to some of the most vulnerable young people in the country.
It will also help finance urgently needed hostel places and will go towards giving young people in desperate straits the skills they need to find work and a place to live.
The appeal, which launches today, is also backed by our appeal partners the London Evening Standard and the i newspaper.
The Duke said: “When a young person’s world falls apart, they have nowhere to go. This is why we are launching the Centrepoint Helpline in 2017. Centrepoint Helpline will provide the information and support that vulnerable young people need before they become homeless.”
This Christmas, Centrepoint warns that some 25,000 young people could be at risk of homelessness. The charity has been giving the young and homeless help through its hostels since 1969.
Now, new research by the charity has found that one in three young people seeking help from English local councils because they are homeless or about to become homeless are being turned away unaided.
The new helpline will include a Freephone number for young people with nowhere else to turn. By phoning the number, they will be able to reach a trained advisor who will make sure they receive the help they need immediately.
How to donate to The Independent’s Christmas Appeal
The Independent’s Homeless Helpline appeal is raising money for the Centrepoint Helpline, a brand new support service that will save young people from ending up on the streets.
To donate you can:
0300 330 2731
HOME66 £5 to 70070
40-42 Phoenix Court