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More young people now living on the streets, charities warn

Calls for extra support as virus crisis leads to a rise in rough sleepers who have left their family homes

06 November, 2020 — By Helen Chapman

Savvas Panas: ‘They can’t go to grandmothers, they can’t go to aunties, so straight away they are onto the street’

HOMELESS charities are calling for more provision to help provide a roof for young people who have turned to rough sleeping during the coronavirus crisis.

The Pilion Trust, based at the Ringcross Centre in Lough Road, usually open up a night shelter for youngsters in the winter called the Crash Pad, which cannot operate under Covid-19 restrictions.

Savvas Panas, the trust’s CEO and founder, said: “We have seen young people leave family homes and end up on the streets because they are too close together and are arguing. This is not about blaming the parents of the young people, but they are experiencing claustrophobia and couldn’t go anywhere else.

“They can’t go to grandmothers, they can’t go to aunties, so straight away they are onto the street.”

The Pilion Trust say 57 homeless young people under the age of 21 have come through their doors since the first lockdown began.

A report by the Combined Homelessness and Information Network (CHAIN), funded by the Greater London Authority, said 3,444 people had been seen sleeping rough in the capital between July and September, with 1,901 sleeping rough for the first time.

Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan

Homeless charity Centrepoint, meanwhile, saw calls to their helpline rise by 50 per cent in comparison to previous years.

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, is to create 900 new long-term homes after securing a £67m grant from the government for homeless Londoners.

Mr Khan said: “The extraordinary effort to house London’s rough sleepers during the pandemic has saved hundreds of lives and allowed many homeless people to access health and welfare services for the first time.

“But this work will be wasted if we don’t have suitable accommodation for people to move into for the long-term. That’s why I’m pleased to have secured this substantial investment, which will help provide a stable future for hundreds of formerly homeless Londoners.”

He added: “There is still much more to do to tackle rough sleeping which will require greater support from the government, including better protection for London’s two million renters to prevent homelessness, funding to maintain hotel accommodation for as long as it’s required and more support for rough sleepers with no recourse to public funds. But this funding for long-term homes is a big step forward in our mission to end homelessness in London for good.”

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