An ex-Centrepoint resident and former homeless person has thanked Independent readers for their generous support of our homeless campaign in a special Christmas message.
In an alternative Queen’s speech-style video Tori Taiwo hailed the Young and Homeless Helpline being launched by the charity as the “lifeline so many young people have been searching for”.
“Thank you so much for joining me on Christmas Day and sharing a thought for the 25,000 people young people facing homelessness this Christmas,” she says.
“Not too long ago I was one of those young people too. Due to a breakdown in relationship with my family I was forced to leave the place I call home twice.
“For months I went from sofa surfing to staying in places that were unsafe before being referred to Centrepoint where I got my own flat and support from staff.”
“Although being in Centrepoint was a safe place, Christmas was a difficult time for me because I spent it completely alone.”
Tori spent her first Christmas away from home alone, eating microwaved rice. She describes it as the “worst Christmas of my life”.
But with her stay at Centrepoint came counselling, workshops in wellbeing and money management and guidance. Now she works as a photographer in a job she loves and will be spending Christmas with her family.
Speaking about the homeless helpline campaign, she said: “This year, homeless young people have been given a voice over the festive period through this Christmas appeal. Your kind donations are helping us to launch the first national helpline specifically for homeless young people.
“So thank you so much. This will dramatically change the lives of thee facing homelessness by directly connecting them to support in their local area.
“It will be the lifeline that so many young people have been searching for.”
The homeless helpline appeal was launched less than two months ago and has raised more than £2m.
When launched in February the helpline will let young people aged between 16 and 25 who face homelessness or are already sleeping rough gain the help they need when they need it.
Money raised in the campaign will not just help fund the service for three years but also pay for accommodation and the counselling and workshops Tori was helped by.
“In Britain 150,000 young people face homelessness each year and Christmas is a particularly hard time to spend it alone, especially not having a place to call home,” she said.
“So today while you are at home with your family, friends and loved ones – opening your Christmas presents and eating your Christmas dinner – please share a thought and a few pounds to support the Young and Homeless appeal this Christmas.
“Your donations will stop a young person ending up on the streets and spending yet another Christmas alone.
“Once again thank you to you and yours for all your support.”
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