The Changing Face Of Homelessness

{mosimage}The trauma of being forced to leave home is fast becoming one of the main causes of homelessness for young people in Britain. Suddenly, teenagers with limited life experience can face being forced to sleep on sofas or the even more unforgiving environment of living on the streets. However, some organisations do offer schemes specifically designed to help these young people either return home or make positive steps in their lives.

The government is backing supported lodging schemes as well as family mediation services as it bids to reduce the numbers of homeless young people. The Foyer Federation helps more than 10,000 homeless 16 to 25 year-olds each year, including 19-year-old Amarah Miah who described the work done by the group as “overwhelming”.

Not only does the Foyer offer a place to stay, but it provides both educational and emotional support. Amarah said: “When I first left home, I felt like it was the end of world, I had nothing. From that time to now, it has been amazing. I feel like a brand new person. I am more confident and happy. God has given me a second chance.”

Explaining how the foyer helped, she said: “They made up a list of the things I needed to do and how I would achieve them. Everyone in the Foyer pushes and pushes to get where you are going and there is emotional support when I need it.” She added: “I think it is absolutely amazing. You know you are not alone and have somebody to talk to. It gives you a feeling that you cannot explain.”

Amarah, who has stayed at the Trident House Foyer in Birmingham since June 2006, has used equipment at the Foyer to help her songwriting career. In future, she wants to shoot a music video but would also like to open a youth centre for troubled teenagers.

Another person who has benefited from such a scheme is 23-year old Paul John who lives in the Ravenhead Foyer. He is due to join the Navy in the next couple of years and is currently at college studying for his first diploma in public services. Paul also has musical aspirations and is extremely impressed with the media facilities available where he stays. He said: “The great thing about living here is that you’ve got company. Depression can sink in when you’ve got nobody to talk to. Having young people my age living around me is like a breath of fresh air. It’s also good to have facilities for job searching, using the internet and you have staff to support you when you need it too.”

Another way of combating homelessness is family mediation, which attempts to prevent the problem in the first place. Eunice Dagnall, 46, from Blackpool, began to have difficulties with her daughter Hannah after she turned 16. Ms Dagnall said: “She started staying out and drinking and all kinds of stuff. It just got to the point when she (Hannah) was not listening and I realised something had to be done to stop what was happening.”

She eventually turned to mediation which has helped build bridges between mother and daughter. Ms Dagnall said: “I personally have found it incredibly helpful and supportive. “They are unbiased about things and it gives you a different perspective.” She admitted that without the service Hannah may have had to leave the family home and added that mediation services were vital. Ms Dagnall said: “There are a lot of frustrated parents who don’t know where to turn and don’t know what to do.”