'Help us consign youth homelessness to the past' - Centrepoint's New Year's message for 2017

As the charity and The Independent campaign for funds for a Young and Homeless Helpline, one of Centrepoint’s leading front line workers delivers this New Year’s message

Matt Carlisle
Friday 30 December 2016 15:08
Centrepoint regional manager Matt Carlisle found himself homeless as a teen and now dedicates his time to helping those in the same situation
Centrepoint regional manager Matt Carlisle found himself homeless as a teen and now dedicates his time to helping those in the same situation

As a teenager, Matt Carlisle found himself homeless, and struggling to survive on the streets as he battled drink and drugs addictions.

“When I was 18,” he has admitted, “You wouldn’t have wanted me anywhere near you.”

But he turned his life around, and so far has dedicated much of the rest of it to turning round the lives of others.

Now 49, he is Centrepoint’s regional manager for central and west London, on the front line of the charity’s fight against youth homelessness.

Here, as The Independent and Centrepoint campaign for funds to establish the first nationwide Young and Homeless Helpline for 16 to 25-year-olds facing homelessness, Mr Carlisle delivers Centrepoint’s New Year’s message:

New Year is always a time for reflection; a time to take stock of your life and get yourself straight for the coming months. Maybe you want to get yourself in shape, or ease off the alcohol for a few weeks. Maybe you’ve decided to get your life admin sorted or start popping a bit of cash into a savings account.

But when you’re young and homeless, these are just dreams. All you really want is to get a safe roof over your head. Somewhere to call home, where you can invite your friends over to play video games and relax.

Such simple things.

At Centrepoint, we’re not just about putting a roof over a vulnerable young person’s head. Day after day, year after year, we help get their heads together, give them some stability and teach them how to run their own lives.

The numbers of homeless young people have been going up steadily every year. Unfortunately, this doesn’t look like it’s going to get any better. From family breakdowns to financial problems, anyone – and I do mean anyone – can find themselves in a situation of homelessness.

Imagine not having a bed to call your own. Having to go from one sofa to the next, exhausting the hospitality of those nearest to you. Having to live your life out of a bag. Going home with a stranger because it’s the only way to stay warm. This is a reality for some young people. A real life situation that is happening in your town, in your city, in 2017.

At Centrepoint, we are here to make sure that no young person goes unnoticed or unsupported. We need to stop this crisis. We need to get these young people back on their own two feet and living independent lives.

Matt Carlisle receiving his Contribution to Society Award from Prince William at a ceremony held at Kensington Palace in November

It’s our mission to get every young person a job and a home.

Again, it’s a simple thing, but to do this we need your ongoing support. You have already proven yourselves to be amazing, and I want to send a heartfelt thank you to each and every one of you that has already donated. Your help is so, so important.

From the helpline, to the health team. From skills and employability to sports for change. Centrepoint is here to make a real difference in young people’s lives.

So please, this year help us to achieve our mission, and one day soon we may just be able to say that youth homelessness is a thing of the past.

Happy New Year, and goodwill to you all.

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:

Call
0300 330 2731

Text
HOME66 £5 to 70070

Post
Freepost RTKC-JRGU-ZYGT
Centrepoint
40-42 Phoenix Court
Hawkins Road
Colchester
CO2 8JY

Go online
www.independent.co.uk/homelesshelpline