Would you know how to help a homeless young person?
Today, on my way in to meet friends in Cardiff city centre, I saw at least 4 homeless people shivering in the cold on the pavement among the thronging crowd. It is also becoming a regular, and depressing sight on almost every trip we make on our weekend family jaunts into town.
Whilst we give what we can, I find myself wondering if there is something more productive we could do, particularly when the homeless person is a youngster. I can’t imagine how I would feel if Caitlin or Ieuan ended up sleeping rough on the streets.
Latest figures reveal 16,000 young people will be at risk of homelessness this Christmas. To help us to help those in need, Centrepoint, the UK’s leading youth homelessness charity, has pulled together some practical tips so that we can do more than just share our spare change and give these young people a safer Christmas.
Streetlink is an app whereby you can immediately report someone sleeping on the streets to your local authority. You can download the app from Apple or Google – alternatively call the 24 hour helpline on 0300 5000914. Be sure to be as detailed as possible with their appearance and location to give the team the best chance of finding the individual who needs help.
Refer them to Centrepoint Helpline
Alternatively, if you know of a young person who might be at risk of becoming homeless, the Freephone Centrepoint Helpline is available for any young person aged 16-25 in England. Open Monday to Friday from 9am to 5pm – call 0808 800 0661.
Many young people do not realise they are homeless. The stereotype of the rough sleeper in the grubby sleeping bag can lead young people to believe that their situation is “not all that bad”.
But research shows that sofa-surfing’ is incredibly common with over two-thirds (68%) of homeless young people having temporarily stayed with friends or extended family (compared to 10% of the general population).
If safe, ask them if they are OK
The decision of whether or not to give money or food is always a personal one. However, a small act of kindness can make a big difference: even if you have nothing else to give, a friendly face and acknowledgement will always be welcome.
And if you feel someone’s health is at immediate risk, ring the emergency services, who will be able to help.
Get involved with Centrepoint
Centrepoint is urging people to donate this winter; just £18 could give a young homeless person a warm, safe room, hot meal and support in rebuilding their life.
Visit: http://centrepoint.org.uk/safechristmas and help a homeless young person come in from the cold for safe Christmas.
You can find my list of organisations who can help for all kinds over problems over the festive period here.