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Friday, 22 October 2021
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Calls to a homeless organisation have increased by a third

FIGURES reveal that during the coronavirus pandemic, calls from young people to a homeless organisation rose by around a third.

According to Centrepoint, demand for immediate assistance, such as emergency food packages, was higher in 2020-21 than the previous year.

Chantelle Chance, from the charity’s Barnsley office, said lockdowns had contributed to “a lot of family breakdowns”.

The government announced that it would spend more than £750 million to address the issue.

According to Centrepoint, homelessness has been fuelled by unemployment and family breakdowns, and many vulnerable young people have “slipped through the cracks” despite government assistance.

The pandemic has “made harder the incredible challenge young people were already facing to get the emergency assistance they need,” according to helpline manager Paul Brocklehurst.

He said the government’s furlough programme and the All In a project to house rough sleepers had helped, but many people had been forgotten.

“If the government is serious about ending rough sleeping and tackling homelessness, it needs a long-term plan for investment that includes ring-fenced money for youth-specific accommodation and services,” he added.

In 2020-21, Centrepoint registered 13,019 incoming calls, up from 9,770 the previous year.

Jamie, 20, was left homeless following the first lockout. He’d gone through a family breakup and mental health issues, and he’d run out of places to stay in September of last year.

During the pandemic, he has struggled to find jobs, but he hopes to attend college to increase his prospects at the end of the year. He now lives in Barnsley with the help of Centrepoint.

“At first, I didn’t like it, but when I got to know the workers, I realised there was nothing to be afraid of,” he said.

“I became accustomed to everybody and began to enjoy myself, and I discovered that I was more welcomed here than at home.”

“I just don’t know what I’d do if I didn’t have this.”

Becky Joyce, a co-founder of Street Angels Leeds, frequently deals for homeless young people.

“Since getting out of curfew, there have been a lot more young people on the sidewalks, teens and others in their early twenties, leading to domestic abuse or fights with their parents,” she added.

“They don’t know how to help themselves, or how to help their circumstances, and getting out of these situations is more difficult for them than it is for adults.”

Caz Vary, 24, has a place to work, but she is pregnant and has financial difficulties.

“It’s been very, really difficult to be friends with Covid and also to feel like you’ve got some support,” she said. “A number of the resources that were formerly accessible have been decommissioned.”

“Since 2018, the Homelessness Reduction Act has assisted over 300,000 families that were homeless or at risk of homelessness into more stable housing, including many young people,” a spokesperson for the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government said.

“Our Homelessness Advice and Assistance Team, which incorporates committed youth homelessness adviser positions, is now assisting municipalities.”

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