The Centrepoint Young and Homeless Helpline would provide a vital new service, delivering information to some of our most vulnerable young people.
“Right now across the country, 150,000 young people approach councils every year asking for help because they are either homeless or they are at the point of homelessness,” says Seyi Obakin, Centrepoint’s chief executive.
“Many are turned away with little or no support, and many others don't know where to go. That is where the helpline will come in. There is absolutely nothing in the country that will give information to young people like it.”
There is currently no national service to give advice and information to homeless young people. Homelessness is a complex issue, and helping young people can be far from simple.
They can find themselves passed from pillar to post, depending on their situation what provision is available in their area, youth homeless experts warn. But this complexity is no reason not to act.
The aim of the appeal to ensure that, from February, there will be a Freephone number that anyone can access, where they will talk to an advice worker and be linked to the most appropriate services, including support from our partners.
Through the generosity of you, our readers, this will then rapidly be expanded to include SMS, live webchat and other forms of digital communication.
The line will enable those aged between 16 and 25 for the first time ever to secure the support they are entitled to at the earliest opportunity, reducing the risk of harm and increasing the potential for positive outcomes.
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
It could mean putting them through to the local council, or directing them to a night shelter.
Alternatively, the helpline could connect them to support in their area: anything from food banks to day centres to temporary accommodation, hostels or low-cost accommodation.
“I think it can be as big as Childline,” says Matt Carlisle, Centrepoint's regional manager for central and west London. “It's going to be massive: a lifeline for vulnerable young people.”
This is why The Independent is determined – with your help – to make the helpline a reality so that, at the most desperate time in their lives, young people have somewhere to turn, and a comforting voice to talk to, so that they get the help they need, when they need it.
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
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