Charity warns of ‘massive’ increase in young people sleeping rough in Sheffield
More young people are sleeping rough in Sheffield than ever before, homelessness experts have warned.
The Sheffield city centre-based youth homelessness charity Roundabout says that over the last 18 months, the number of young people aged 18-24 living on the city’s streets has skyrocketed.
CEO Ben Keegan says the reasons for this are complex, but a decade of cuts to services and the introduction of Universal Credit in late 2018 are both thought to have played a role.
And he added the recent rise was all the more dispiriting as the problem of youth homelessness had been considered almost solved in the relatively recent past.
He said: “We have seen a massive increase in teenagers sleeping rough in the city over the last year. Over Christmas, there were lots of new faces.
“For years Roundabout has been putting our thumb in the dam but in the last 18 months it feels like it has burst and we are being inundated with young people sleeping rough.
“When I moved to Sheffield in 2001 there was no one sleeping rough and you always think things are going to improve and generally get better.
“It is frustrating when you have worked in homelessness for over 20 years to see it getting worse.”
Roundabout was set up 40 years ago for young people aged 16-25 for whom adult homelessness services weren’t appropriate.
They work with youngsters to help them reconnect with family and - if this isn’t possible - to find them accommodation, mental health support and help with accessing services and benefits.
“Having to leave the family home at the age of 16 or 17 is a totally different thing to 40 and 50-year-olds with drink problems,” said Ben.
“Most are dealing with childhood trauma. Lots of the stories are quite horrific.
“The first thing we do is try to put people back in touch with their families. If people can’t go back home we have a 27-bed hostel.
“Then we try to put young people in places of their own with lots of support using a model called Housing First that had worked well elsewhere.”
Ben said that in order to maintain their service and its properties, Roundabout were always looking for donations and new fundraising opportunities.
For more information, visit www.roundabouthomeless.org.