Christmas is the time to be with friends and family, but for over 4,000 young people across London they will be facing homelessness this winter.
Centrepoint, the UK’s leading youth homelessness charity is keeping it’s hostel doors open over Christmas to ensure that vulnerable young people are being supported.
The young people living in Centrepoint’s hostels have had a tough year, as throughout both lockdowns, visitor plans were in place to keep the young people safe, which meant it has been an isolating and lonely time.
The staff working at Centrepoint’s London hostels are adamant that they will not let the coronavirus pandemic spoil the young people’s Christmases, and plan to provide Christmas trees, decorations, presents and a Christmas dinner.
Matt Carlisle, Service Manager at Centrepoint in Wandsworth, said:
“Christmas is always a difficult time for homeless young people because it’s a time when most people get together with family, and as you can imagine this might not be possible for a lot of young people, and the pandemic has just made this worse.
“Life for young people in services right now is really difficult. The pandemic and it’s affects are taking a massive toll on young people and their mental health. That is why it’s vital we are able to lighten their load and brighten things up a bit at Christmas.
“I just want to make Christmas as normal as possible, and as nice as possible. I want Christmas trees and decorations, chocolates, sweets, goodies, Christmas dinner, and of course presents for everyone to open on Christmas day.”
Olu Sanyaolu, Supported Housing Officer at Barnet Foyer, said:
“Bearing in mind the effects of Covid-19 and the social distancing rules, this year’s Christmas will be different from others. In the past we would have activities such as going out for a Christmas meal and visiting a winter wonderland.
“We are saying, even if the birds forgets to sing, the snow forgets to fall and the flowers forget to bloom… we would celebrate Christmas with our young people because we understand what this means to them. We would ensure we make this Christmas, Christmas.”
Keeping accommodation open for vulnerable young people is essential, as earlier this year Centrepoint research revealed that almost three quarters of councils had seen an increase in homelessness between March and June, and almost three quarters expected to see further increases due to the pandemic. Calls to Centrepoint’s helpline jumped by over 50% during the first lockdown when compared to the months leading up to it, with many more calls coming from young people sleeping rough.
Paul Brocklehurst, Helpline Manager at Centrepoint, said:
“This year has been the busiest ever for the Helpline, and as we go into winter we except to be even busier. All the team are working hard to support as many young people as possible, no one should be homeless this Christmas.”
Centrepoint runs hostels across the country supporting homeless young people into a job and a home. Over 120,000 young people faced homelessness last year – an increase of almost 10,000 on the previous year – according to new Centrepoint research. The charity is warning that this number is likely to be higher this year in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, with 4,004 young Londoners facing homelessness this Christmas.
Those who wish to donate to Centrepoint this Christmas can give ‘More Than a Gift’ this year, purchasing gifts from a Christmas dinner to Christmas jumpers, all for homeless young people. Visit https://centrepoint.org.uk/morethanagift. For more information on the charity visit https://centrepoint.org.uk/.