Three years ago, at the age of just 16, Daniel Jepson was living in a B&B. Like many young homeless people, his relationship with his family had broken down, resulting in him leaving his home in Bridgend, South Wales, after an argument. His unsettled existence meant that he was soon in trouble with the police and his life was in danger of spiralling out of control until he made contact with Llamau, Wales’s leading homelessness charity. Last year alone, its services were used by 5,000 people. Now 19, Mr Jepson said Llamau’s staff gave him a chance to turn his life around.
“The charity helped me out loads, they gave me support and advice. I had one support worker, but you can ask anyone there for help – they all know what they’re doing and they are there to help you. Without them, I think I would’ve hit rock bottom,” he said. He now lives in one of the charity’s supportive housing projects and has enrolled in its Learning 4 Life scheme, which will allow him to secure a paid work placement and later, he hopes, a job. He has started seeing his family regularly and is glad that his situation is “all sorted”.
His advice for other young people who may find themselves in a similar situation is: “Don’t be down and depressed about it – take it as it comes, and stay strong.”
Llamau, which has existed for nearly 30 years, has benefited from the support of the Garfield Weston Foundation, a charitable grant-making trust founded in 1958. The Foundation, which gave almost £1m to homelessness projects across the UK last year, is also a main sponsor of The Independent’s Homeless Veterans appeal. According to the Foundation’s director Philippa Charles, it sees its role as “supporting excellence” by awarding money to projects that need it. “The key thing is trusting communities around the country to know what the solutions are to the issues that they’re facing,” she added.
The Foundation helped to fund Llamau’s Learning 4 Life scheme, which offers training to young people such as Mr Jepson who find it difficult to engage with the mainstream education system after being homeless. It offers City & Guilds and other accredited qualifications, as well as internships with local businesses.
“We are absolutely delighted that The Independent is highlighting homelessness, because if it becomes a more visible thing, we hope that will have a knock-on effect for the range of organisations we support, which also need help from the general public,” said Ms Charles. “They are operating in pretty tough circumstances.”
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