The £3m lifeline: Independent readers thanked as Homeless Helpline Appeal passes £3m mark

Centrepoint CEO Seyi Obakin says he has been overwhelmed by the level of support for a helpline that will be both a lifeline and a key advance in the fight against youth homelessness 

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The Independent Online

Readers of The Independent have received a heartfelt thank you as it was announced that the Homeless Helpline Appeal has smashed through the £3m barrier.

The donations of Independent readers and others have helped ensure that on 13 February, the youth homelessness charity Centrepoint will be able to launch the first nationwide helpline for 16 to 25-year-olds who are homeless or at risk of homelessness.

Frontline Centrepoint staff have described the helpline as “a game-changer” that will save young lives and address a situation where, the charity’s research suggests, up to a third of young people are being turned away by English local councils when they seek help with homelessness .

The thousands whose donations helped push the fundraising total beyond £3m and made the helpline a reality were thanked by Evgeny Lebedev, the owner of The Independent, who said: “This remarkable achievement is testament to the extraordinary generosity of you, the readers, and your commitment to fighting the scourge of youth homelessness.

“On behalf of The Independent, Centrepoint, and thousands of the country’s most vulnerable young people for years to come, I would just like to say: thank you.”

Seyi Obakin, the chief executive of Centrepoint, said that thanks to the reader donations that allowed the helpline to launch, the first steps could now be taken towards the ultimate goal of ending youth homelessness altogether.

He admitted that he had been overwhelmed by the level of support from Independent readers.

“We already knew people were appalled at the scale of youth homelessness,” he said. “What we could not have anticipated, however, is how that would translate into the determined response this campaign has provoked.

“Reaching £3m is proof, if it were needed, that people across the UK don’t want to live in a society where young people are forced to sleep on the streets. 

“Instead, they want to ensure vulnerable young people have somewhere to turn and the safety and support which everyone should expect.

“The support from readers has been overwhelming. It has allowed us to create the helpline, and to take the first steps towards realising our ambitious goal of ending youth homelessness across the country.”

The appeal was run with The Independent, the Evening Standard newspaper and London Live TV station, and in partnership with the i.

It has ensured that young people will now be able to dial a Freephone number and speak to a sympathetic, trained adviser capable of guiding them towards the help they need.

Centrepoint staff manning the helpline will be able to plug into the charity’s nationwide network of contacts, ensuring that wherever a young person is calling from, they will be directed towards someone local who can help.  

A further groundbreaking feature is that Centrepoint has teamed up with leading youth advisory charity The Mix. By sharing offices with the Mix, helpline workers will have easy access to that charity’s network of experts in dealing with a whole host of issues connected with youth homelessness, like money management, mental health, family breakdown, education and training. 

Matt Carlisle, Centrepoint regional manager for London and West London, who himself experienced homelessness as a teenager, said: “The helpline will be the difference between young people living with the threat of sleeping rough hanging over them, or getting the support they need.

“The problems young people are facing today, from the lack of affordable housing to the struggle to get a job that pays the bills, mean that the Centrepoint Young and Homeless Helpline is needed now more than ever. 

“For the appeal to have reached £3m is incredible.”

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