The independent London newspaper

More homeless now under 25

Government urged to pay for emergency shelters as number of young people sleeping rough soars

12 February, 2021 — By Bronwen Weatherby

CHARITIES for the homeless have urged the government to pay for emergency shelters for young people amid warnings that number of under-25s sleeping rough is rising.

Breakdowns in family relationships, domestic abuse, overcrowding and unemployment have been cited as the main reasons more young people are sleeping outside.

Figures suggest that one person in 10 on the streets is under 25.

The long-standing New Horizon Youth Centre in King’s Cross, which helps young and vulnerable homeless people, said it was stretched to find accommod­ation for more than half the people who asked for help in recent months and had resorted to paying for hotels itself.

Service manager Megan Roach said: “We’ve had many more young people approach us for help in the last year. Twice as many women as we normally see. Our resources are stretched so there is a real worry about how we are going to cope as the problem worsens.”

She added: “The problem is there is barely any emergency accommodation and none specific for young people, which is what is desperately needed. We don’t have enough money to keep putting people up in hotels and the only option is sending them back out with a sleeping bag.”

Paul Noblet, head of the Centrepoint charities, said: “At the start of the pandemic the government stepped up and invested in local services to get everyone in. That was the right call then, and it’s the right call now.

“Regional mayors, local councils, and charities want to provide age-appropriate accommodation for rough sleepers but to do that we need ministers to dip into the coffers again to keep every­one safe whilst vaccines are rolled out.”

He added: “That means providing more funding to ensure that night shelters and homelessness services can accommodate everyone and reflect the needs of different age groups as, for many young people, the prospect of all age accommodation leads them to stay out on the streets.”

The government has said it has taken “unprecedented action”, adding that this had been “backed by over £700m”.

A spokesperson said: “We’re ensuring councils and voluntary organisations have the tools and funding they need and recently wrote to councils asking them to redouble their efforts to accommodate rough sleepers.”


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