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Centrepoint’s mission to help young homeless

Evening Standard logo Evening Standard 13/11/2019 Seyi Obakin
Prince William, Duke of Cambridge holding a sign posing for the camera © Provided by Independent Digital News & Media Limited

Today we mark 50 years of Centrepoint giving homeless young people a better future . Most birthdays are a cause for celebration but ours is not. We cannot celebrate when, in 2019 alone, more than 100,000 young people in our country found themselves homeless or at risk of homelessness. This is not just a national tragedy, it is also a disgrace.

We know that family breakdown is the leading cause of youth homelessness. We also know that young people today are spending more of their income on rent and experiencing higher levels of debt than ever before.

For five decades Centrepoint has worked tirelessly to give homeless young people a future by providing them a home, helping them into work, and supporting them with their mental and physical health. But despite now working alongside our partners to support 15,000 young people a year, we cannot end youth homelessness on our own. That is why, together with our patron HRH the Duke of Cambridge, we are calling on you to help us.

Ending youth homelessness is not just the right thing to do, it is the economically prudent thing to do. For every £1 Centrepoint spends tackling youth homelessness, £2.40 of savings to the public are made by those young people being helped to avoid stays in hospital, and to become less reliant on benefits by getting into work.

The young people I meet in our services want to gain new skills, pursue their ambitions, and find a permanent place to call home.

Prince William, Duke of Cambridge et al. sitting in a chair talking on the phone: The Duke of Cambridge visits Centrepoint's new apprenticeship accommodation (Ben Stansall/PA) © Provided by Independent Digital News & Media Limited The Duke of Cambridge visits Centrepoint's new apprenticeship accommodation (Ben Stansall/PA)

That’s why, this morning, the Duke of Cambridge launched Centrepoint’s Independent Living Programme, a proactive solution to help young people help themselves by giving them a job and a home. Our most ambitious programme to date, Independent Living seeks to create 300 new bed spaces across London and Greater Manchester by 2021, and secure entry-level or apprenticeship roles that lead to full-time employment for those 300 young people.

This project will tackle the shortage of quality affordable accommodation, free up hostel beds that Centrepoint currently provides for those in desperate need, and give young people the long-term future they aspire to, and deserve.

No young person should be homeless in the UK in 2019. So I take this opportunity to call on the Government, local government and the private sector to help us defeat youth homelessness. I call also on you, personally, to join the effort.

If you see a young person who needs help, please take a moment to contact our Centrepoint Helpline on 0808 800 0661. If you are an employer, please consider whether you can offer an opportunity to a young person who has experienced homelessness. If you are a politician, whether at the town hall or in Whitehall, please prioritise support for this very vulnerable group of young people.

Together, I know we can beat youth homelessness if we choose to do so.

Seyi Obakin is chief executive of Centrepoint

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