Youth homelessness is a growing issue - what can you do to stop the cycle?

Violence, family breakdown, leaving foster care, gang crime, physical/mental health problems, abuse, these are some of the many reasons you might see a young homeless person on the street. Maybe you walk past and ask yourself, how can I help? What can be done on a whole to solve this ongoing problem?

Impact of homelessness on youth  

No one would purposefully want to sleep on a piece of cardboard with no blanket on a painfully cold concrete pavement. That situation may render someone unable to sleep for the whole night out of fear being attacked just for sleeping rough.  

Nobody should have to live like this, especially as a young person. Sleeping rough can take its toll, constantly worrying and thinking where and how to get your next meal or sometimes going days without anything to eat at all.  

Many of these young people can't work because they have no fixed address, nowhere to wash themselves, or internet access to enable them to search for jobs. 

"We cannot always build the future for our youth, but we can build our youth for the future." - Franklin D. Roosevelt

Preventing youth homelessness  

I make a habit of reminding myself to never look down on anyone unless you are helping them up. Many of the youth today, even those in well balanced homes need inspiring and uplifting to feel motivated.

Imagine, then, how much more support a homeless youth is going to need. They are extremely vulnerable and must be protected, advised, helped and given hope.  

The charity Centre point understands that a homeless young person first needs their basic needs met; most importantly having somewhere safe to sleep. The immediate danger must be irradicated first, followed by putting the safeguards in place.  

It’s crucial to understand each individual’s current situation and move towards helping them grasp the full extent of their circumstances that led to how and why they ended up in their predicament in the first place. Centre point wants to support them to reach their full potential in life. 

Young people need a listening ear, as well as caring and understanding role models to help them out of what many homeless youths feel is an impossible situation to escape from. This is where you can help! No one should be in a situation like this. 

Although a homeless person may have had a troubled past, this does not mean their future can't be filled with hope and joy; a small change can make a major difference. 

''Being homeless is like living in a post-apocalyptic world. You're on the outskirts of society.''- Frank Dillane

Some who find themselves homeless depend on begging and rely on strangers' kind hearts to spare some change; some will also exchange sex for money, just so they can eat. This puts them at serious risk of rape, violence and murder, which can quickly become a vicious cycle that is very hard to break, especially if you have no support network. The mere thought of being in a situation like this is deeply upsetting, but this is the sad reality for the homeless. 

In some cases, homelessness is due to circumstance; many are just fleeing danger and the streets can offer a better chance of survival than their current living situation.  

Many are also *invisible homeless that are too ashamed to admit their current situation out of fear of being judged or ostracised, they might seek shelter in public places such as a bus station, park or sofa surf.

* Invisible homeless refers specifically to people who live “temporarily with others but without guarantee of continued residency or immediate prospects for accessing permanent housing.”

Homeless people often suffer emotional, physical and mental agony.  It is vital that everyone is offered somewhere to spend the night, having access to something as simple as a warm bed to lay down in, and taking a nice, hot shower after waking up. These things are simple, and easy to take for granted.

Showing kindness to those in need calls upon our shared humanity; we all deserve to experience love and have somewhere safe to call home, especially as a young person.  

I don’t know about you, but I want to be the one that didn’t turn a blind eye. I want to help those in need and be the change I wish to see in the world by helping those in difficult circumstances change their current negative situation to a positive bright future.

You can make a difference! 

What can you do to help?  A small donation of just €14 (£12) could sponsor a room for a homeless youth; A turning point in their life.  

Just knowing a complete stranger is willing to help could spark the belief that a youth’s current situation may change, and ignite the feeling of hope and perseverance within them that tomorrow can and will be better.

If you are unable to donate money, but would still like to help, you can make a positive impact on a young person's life by fundraising yourself. How can you raise money for charity?  One way is to do a ‘Sleep Out’ fundraiser. You can involve your colleagues, family and friends, the more people the better!  

Not only will you be raising money for a good cause, but you will also be spreading awareness, becoming part of the solution and be the change you hope to see in the world. It all starts with you.  

The money raised will go towards providing many opportunities for homeless youth, such as counselling support, education, training and employment. 

The engagement team at Centrepoint – facilitate youth with life skills for a positive, confident and bright future. Centrepoint offer their own resources, like arts and culture, sports and food. The charity aims to save lives, and take people off the streets.

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