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Roundabout way to keep young people off streets

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Like the majority of people who become homeless, it was never Sophie’s intention to find herself without a roof over her head.

At 19 years old she and her partner Adam both had full-time work and a flat of their own.

But when Adam lost his job, the couple struggled to keep up with their rent payments and they were eventually forced to move out, split up and return to their families.

The problem for Sophie was that she had left the family home in the Parson Cross area of Sheffield because of her parents’ drink-induced violence.

“My dad would regularly beat my mum, usually after they had both been drinking and this had been happening for as long as I can remember,” she said.

“I tried to protect my mum but this would make things even worse and then dad would turn the violence towards me.”

As Sophie had feared, the return to the family home simply saw the pattern of violence begin again and so, in fear for her own safety, she packed a bag and walked out, with nowhere to sleep but the car she shares with Adam.

It was at that point, as she wandered around Sheffield city centre wondering where to turn for help, that she spotted Sheffield charity Roundabout’s new homeless prevention service office on Union Street.

Roundabout supports 150 homeless young people across the city every day and has the only emergency hostel in Sheffield for young homeless people aged 16 to 21, but the hostel is always full and there is a huge demand for places.

Its new homeless prevention service offers advice and support to young people aged 16 to 21 who are close to becoming homeless due to the breakdown of family relationships.

Working with the whole family, the service will offer mediation between young people and parents, devising solutions that will enable a safe return home.

If it proves impossible to resolve the conflict and the young person cannot return home the service will be able to give advice and practical help on housing options and the young people will be referred to one of Roundabout’s Housing and Support services.

By walking through the door at 22 Union Street, Sophie met Roundabout prevention worker Danielle Wright, who quickly talked through Sophie’s history and explored her options both around housing and getting support on dealing with her family issues.

It was clear that a return home was not possible but Sophie was lucky that a bed had become available in Roundabout’s emergency hostel.

Even though Sophie and Adam really want somewhere to live together it was clear that the hostel would be the best short-term option for Sophie at least.

Sophie is not happy at the hostel, leaving as early as she can in the morning to meet Adam – who is sleeping on friends’ floors and even in the car on some nights – and not returning until 1am for a few hours in her room alone, trying to sleep.

Unable to rest properly, she has taken unpaid leave from her job until things are more stable and staff at the hostel are doing their best to move her on as soon as they can to a shared house where Adam can visit and stay over a couple of nights per week.

She said: “I’m not not happy because nobody wants to think they’ll end up in a homeless hostel. But I am so grateful that I found Roundabout’s homeless prevention service and that they are helping me and Adam to work out our problems.

“The truth is that I really would be prepared to sleep in the park that night rather than spend another night with my dad, but I know now that with the help of Roundabout there is now hope for me and Adam.”

Ben Keegan, Roundabout chief executive, said: “Sophie and Adam’s story is not at all uncommon and reflects quite accurately the way in which young people can find themselves homeless through no fault of their own.

“She is a remarkable young woman with an inner strength that will see her through this terrible period in her life

“Her commitment to succeed is easy to see and we know she will be OK now that she has found a safe place and support but there are so many other Sophies out there that won’t be as lucky.”

 

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