Our mission to tackle the causes of youth homelessness means that amongst other things, we also provide a safe home to around 1,400 vulnerable young people across Sussex and Surrey. The young people, living in both our supported and transitional housing projects in Brighton & Hove, were finding it difficult to access food, so we reached out to the local community. Project workers, Matt and Karina, pick up the story:
“COVID-19 has undoubtedly changed the landscape for us and our young people. With new restrictions placed on us and the endless panic buying it was seeming harder than ever for our young people to safely get hold of the supplies they needed. Food banks across Brighton are seeing an influx of referrals and the pressure has been on to meet the new-found needs of the city.
“It seemed that there were lots of people willing to help, we just needed to reach them. So Isabella Hart, one of our project workers, got in touch with COVID-19 Mutual Aid UK, a group of volunteers supporting local communicates by coordinating care efforts for those most at risk. We created a drop off slot for people to donate food and reached out through a local WhatsApp group. We are amazed at the generosity of our local community. Through technology and a sense of shared responsibility, we have been able to meet the needs of our young people whilst spreading awareness about what YMCA DownsLink Group does for young people across the city. Massive thank you to all those who took the time to donate and to COVID-19 Mutual Aid UK for supporting us.”
Residents and staff have been amazed by the response.
Hidden behind a mountain of food, project workers, Matt, and Karina, summed up how they are all feeling:
“We have been overwhelmed by the kindness and response we have received from our community, helping to provide for our young people at this time of uncertainty. It has been very heart-warming to see the general public coming together in this difficult time and reach out to help our residents and then for us to see their reaction to such a kind-spirited gesture from our local community. Very life-affirming.”
Residents too have been overwhelmed:
‘We can’t believe how much stuff people have given its wicked!!!!’
‘All the food donations have been ace and everyone has been so kind! – many thanks!’
‘So much food! So many nice people!’
‘Just brilliant! Thanks to everyone out there’
We’ve now set up our own fundraising appeal (#Here4U) to ensure we can provide food and essentials to all of our 1,400 residents across Sussex and Surrey. Some of those most at risk, are the young people who have moved on from supported accommodation to ‘transitional’ housing, where they are living alone in small units, as a stepping stone to full independence. Many of them were working in the gig economy or on zero-hour contracts, so are now struggling with affording the basics and feeling isolated. To combat this, as well as providing essentials, we’re also making sure they are being contacted regularly by project workers.
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