Why should you become a Room Sponsor with YMCA DownsLink Group?
Can you imagine what it would have been like to navigate your teenage years without a supportive family? Or, worse, that your home wasn’t a safe place to be? There are many reasons that young people become homeless, but it is never their choice.
By sponsoring a room you help us give a vulnerable young person a home. But, more than that, you help us give them back faith in their future, and, put them on a path to independence.
Every night we provide a safe and stable place to live for 763 young people across Sussex and Surrey
The pressure caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, including an increase in family breakdown, a significant rise in poor mental health, and job insecurity, means we need your help more than ever.
By giving £12 a month (40p per day), you will help us:
- Provide safety for a homeless young person by giving them a safe, warm place to call home
- End their isolation by welcoming them into our family environment and encouraging them to build trusting relationships with our dedicated project support workers
- Support young people with health and wellbeing as well as practical advice
- Teach young people basic life skills, such as budgeting and cooking, to enable them to move towards independence
- Encourage them to get back into education or work
- End the cycle of poverty and disadvantage
Help a Homeless Young Person in Your Community
Although we work across Sussex and Surrey you can choose to support a young person close to you, in your community.
Become a Room Sponsor in: Brighton & Hove, Eastbourne, Crawley, Guildford, Hastings, Horsham, Worthing, or, you can let us use it where it is needed most.
Will £12 a month really make a difference?
Yes it will!
The true cost of a room and the additional support service which we offer to residents in YMCA DownsLink Group accommodation is more than £12 a month.
£12 is an amount we feel that our supporters might be able to afford and is based on the basic additional monthly cost of providing essential support services for each young person living in our accommodation, which we call ‘More than a Room’ & ‘Passport to Independence’. These programmes aim to give young people, the confidence, skills, and support to move on to independent living and out of the trap of homelessness.
By having a community of committed supporters giving to us monthly, we are able to plan better and do more to change the lives of vulnerable young people in Surrey and Sussex. Room sponsors will help us break the cycle of poverty and disadvantage that can lead to long-term homelessness.
All fundraised money from Room Sponsorship goes towards supporting young people in our housing projects. (For more information see our FAQs on Room Sponsorship)
79% of the young people living with us, move on positively.
The impact of Covid-19 on vulnerable young people and those at risk of homelessness
Homelessness, poor mental health, family breakdown and unemployment/financial issues have always been factors impacting the lives of the vulnerable young people in our communities. Covid-19 has hugely exacerbated these issues. After an initial 61% increase in presentations of homelessness, we are now seeing a continued 20% increase in the numbers of young people who are reaching out for support, as well as an increase in the complexity of issues they are presenting to us.
Right now, young people are coming to us with an increased threat of homelessness as relationships at home break down. Those already in contact with us or living with us are experiencing heightened feelings of isolation, anxiety and fear. Between April 2020 and April 2021, our safeguarding alerts were up 54% on the previous year and in the last quarter, suicidal ideation (thinking about suicide) accounted for almost 70% of them. As one resident put it:
“young people can see no hope”
They need our help now, more than ever, so that we can help them see the possibility of a safe and positive future and support them in their journey to get there. Will you help us, help them?
The rise of youth homelessness in Sussex and Surrey
When it comes to youth homelessness, the statistics* speak for themselves:
- It is estimated that 20% of homeless people are aged 16 to 24.
- Approximately 40% of 16-25 year olds in the UK have sofa-surfed at some point due to having nowhere to live.
- One in ten young people who have sofa-surfed did so for more than a month in total.
We know that rough sleeping is a significant challenge in our area, with some of the highest numbers for rough sleeping outside of London. Significant changes to housing benefit, alongside the staggering rise in house prices and rents, means homes, particularly in the South East, are increasingly unaffordable. Since the start of the pandemic, job losses have particularly affected young people who are more likely to be in insecure employment or working in the gig economy.
In addition, many of the young people sleeping rough in our area have multiple and compound needs. This means that they may experience several overlapping problems at the same time, such as mental ill health, homelessness, drug and alcohol addiction, exploitation, offending and family breakdown. This group of people require greater levels of support to find a route off the streets and can struggle to engage with the services they need to get help.
As well as the homeless young people we see on the streets, there are also those we don’t see – the hidden homeless. These are the young people who are sofa-surfing or finding temporary accommodation with family and friends, and therefore not present in the statistics shared around homelessness. Some stay with strangers and may be exploited, having to exchange sex for somewhere to stay.
Care leavers are at a higher risk of youth homelessness
A group of young people who are particularly at risk of homelessness are care leavers. They often have little choice but to deal with the challenges and responsibilities of living independently at a young age. For some, traumatic experiences in their early years can make them especially vulnerable. Almost 30% of the young people living in our supported housing fall into this category. We provide a vital stepping stone for those young people who aren’t ready to live alone. As well as a safe place to live, our ‘More Than a Room’ & ‘Passport to Independence’ programmes aim to develop ‘resilience’ in our young residents, so, however difficult their start in life, they can go on and live successful, independent lives.
“Just walking through the doors of the YMCA and seeing the staff and the residents and having banter with them and talking to them. It’s just like having a home away from home and having a sense of family. I think you can’t really put a price on that…”
LGBTQU+ young people disproportionately affected by homelessness
LGBTQU+ young people are also at more risk of homelessness than the general population. A study by youth charity AKT found that more than half of LGBTQU+ people who have been made homeless have been discriminated against or harassed by people who should be caring for them. The charity surveyed 161 people who have experienced homelessness between the ages of 16 and 25, and half who answered said they had feared expressing their LGBTQU+ identity to family would lead to them being evicted. Almost two thirds (61%) of LGBTQU+ people who had become homeless had first felt frightened or threatened by family. Sadly, this research is something we see on a daily basis. We work hard to ensure that we create a safe and welcoming space for LGBTQU+ young people throughout our services and our commitment has been recognised by being awarded The Allsorts Safer Spaces Award.
Read Jack’s story
*Statistics have been taken from Centrepoint’s databank