Charities have issued a call for volunteers to help staff the UK’s first helpline for homeless young people.
Experts from Centrepoint will give vital early intervention housing and homelessness advice via a Freephone line to people aged 16 to 25 who are facing life on the streets.
The two charities have hailed the partnership as a “groundbreaking” in the level of support available to callers.
Centrepoint and The Mix will share a call centre space in central London and work together to answer phones. Callers will be passed between the services depending on the type of support they need.
Both charities are now looking for volunteers, working remotely and in their call centre, to help staff their helplines and web services.
Centrepoint is initially looking for 50 volunteers to speak to callers and online users when its helpline expands this summer to include SMS, live web chat, and other forms of digital communication.
It has the staff and volunteers to man the helpline now, but wants to have more volunteers in place to meet an expected rise in demand as the number of young people accessing the helpline increases in the coming months.
The Mix, the UK’s leading youth advisory charity, is also looking to recruit 150 volunteers to sustain an expected boom in demand for its services.
It offers advice and counselling on topics including bullying, debt, drink, drugs and mental and sexual health, which can be the trigger for people ending up homeless.
Chris Martin, chief executive of the Mix, said: “Many volunteers find the experience personally rewarding and empowering. It can be a great way to meet new people, share your own experiences, earn an accreditation and to make a big impact on the physical and mental well-being of young people in crisis.”
The Mix’s website services are visited by two million young people a year, including 520,960 aged under 25.
Some 20,000 people contacted its helpline, including 2,000 calls about housing support. Callers are given immediate support and signposted to other services which can give them longer term help.
Heather Devine, 35, The Mix’s office manager, who started off as a volunteer in October 2015, said: “I’d recommend volunteering. The hours are very flexible, and you the difference you can make to young people’s lives is incredible rewarding. We have noticed the surge in callers around homelessness, it’s a really massive issue.”
Paul Brocklehurst, senior Centrepoint helpline manager said: “This is a chance to intervene in young people’s lives when it’s most needed. You will play an integral part in these young people’s journeys to safety and success. And, as someone who began my career in this sector as a volunteer, I know this will be an excellent opportunity for anyone interested in the sector.
“People who have supported the Young and Homeless Helpline Appeal or been moved by the stories of young people we have helped can now be at the very front line of the battle against youth homelessness by being part of the delivery of the helpline itself.”
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