Spare rooms wanted to shelter homeless youths

Pic: Supported Lodgings

A new scheme backed by Tower Hamlets council is seeking spare rooms in the borough to house homeless young people.

The program, funded by the council and run by homelessness charity Depaul UK, needs spare rooms to help house young people between the ages of 16 and 18 who are leaving care, have suffered family breakdown or need housing for some other reason.

The program is designed for those who need help but are not yet confident enough to live independently.

Participants provide a spare room in their house to a young guest or a period of six months to two years, receiving supervision, support and maintenance and rent costs. The guest will also meet regularly with a youth worker from Depaul.

Meghan Reid, the charity’s supported lodgings coordinator, told EastLondonLines the scheme has already been very successful for many young people.

She said: “I think it is the new model for accommodating young people without complex needs. Research carried out by the Department of Communities and Local Government shows supported lodgings schemes produce better outcomes across key indicators, including engagement of participants in further education and incidents of mental health issues.

“Tower hamlets has so much community spirit, so many people have come forward to be hosts. But as it’s the second most densely populated borough, in terms of numbers, spare beds will be biggest obstacle.”

Initially piloted in Newcastle, the project has been operating in Lewisham and Edmonton for a year. Reid expects it to be rolled out across the whole of London in the future.

Depaul UK say the project is a response to the recent rise in youth homelessness and  lack of affordable safe housing in London.

Homelessness rose by 14% across the country last year, and in London by 8%, according to government statistics. People aged between 16 and 24 made up more than a third of the national statistic.

Angela, a project host who lives in Edmonton and did not wish to give her surname, said that when she was growing up her own mother took in young people who needed help, so she decided to do something similar for her community.

Before her guest Anna arrived, Angela was nervous, but sad that the training showed her “how important it was to help a young person feel safe” and “opened [her] eyes” to the problems faced by young people.

Angela said: “She really feels like part of our family and hosting has worked out so well that I am hoping to keep doing it for many years to come!”

If you would like to more information on Supported Lodgings or are thinking about becoming a host, click here.

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