Thousands of young people at risk of homelessness this Christmas face dangerous choices in a bid to find somewhere safe to sleep, a charity has warned
Desperate measures include staying with a stranger and committing crimes, Centrepoint said, as it declared society is facing a crisis in youth homelessness, possibly numbering 25,000 people this festive season.
More than a quarter of young homeless people surveyed by the charity earlier this year admitted to having stayed with someone they did not know, while 12% said they had done something illegal in order to be taken into custody.
Young people helped by Centrepoint after spending time on the streets have advised others in a similar situation to seek help, rather than turning to crime or putting themselves in dangerous situations.
Twenty-one-year-old Jordan from Bradford, who did not wish to give his surname, said he had sold drugs and broken into caravans for a night’s sleep after problems at home.
He heard about Centrepoint through a friend, having slept rough for around four months, and is now living in rented accommodation and has just completed training to work in the security industry.
He said: “I was definitely at rock bottom, if not lower than rock bottom. It was through Centrepoint that I got into the security industry
“It is thanks to Centrepoint that I’ve got the job that I’ve got. I would advise people to seek help. I am in a brilliant place now compared to where I was five years ago.”
Centrepoint aims to give vulnerable young people a safe place to stay, help them find a job and also work with them on physical and mental health problems.
Paul Noblet, head of public affairs for Centrepoint, said: “We’re facing a crisis when it comes to youth homelessness – as many as 25,000 young people could be at risk of homelessness this Christmas alone.
“Behind that appalling statistic is a human being not much older than many of our children and grandchildren, who is alone, frightened and confronted with impossible choices.
“We know young people are taking desperate measures to get themselves off the streets: from committing petty crime, to the tragedy of getting themselves admitted to A&E just to find somewhere warm to stay for the night.
“The situation is bleak but homelessness does not need to define a young person’s life if they receive the support they need at the right time.”
Centrepoint surveyed 430 homeless young people in July as part of their Desperate Measures campaign.
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