CHARITY: Roundabout is a shelter for thousands of youngsters
They first opened the doors in 1977 and since then, Roundabout has helped over 10,000 young people in Sheffield - yet you have possibly never heard of them.
Back in 1972, John Belcher was moved by the well-known BBC drama Cathy Come Home, so set up the South Yorkshire Housing Association.
A few years later in 1976, the organisation joined the Sheffield Youth Development Trust to seek accommodation. By January 1977, Roundabout was formed and had opened its doors to support the young people of Sheffield.
The youth homeless charity started off as just a three bed hostel with an outside toilet. Fast-forward to today and they have 27 single en-suite bedrooms in their hostel, located in the Highfield area of the city.
Roundabout provides shelter, support and life skills to over 150 young people aged 16-24 every day, through various services.
As well as the hostel, they have a resettlement team which provides semi-supported accommodation for young people who are preparing to leave care. They have around 40 bed spaces spread across the city, allowing young people to practice independence skills outside of a residential setting.
Additionally, Roundabout's supporting tenants project supports those who already have their own home but may be at risk of losing them. The service works across Sheffield and supports people living in council, housing association and private rented accommodation to help them maintain their tenancies.
At the end of July, renovation work is due to start on Roundabout's “No11” property. No11 is next door to the main hostel and acts as a stepping stone for the young people moving from the hostel to their own tenancy.
It consists of five self contained flats for eight young people and gives them the next step towards independence with the same support they have in the hostel. These flats support young people to better prepare for their future.
Toni is 21 and currently lives in one of the flats.
She became homeless after her family suffered bereavement and her mum struggled to pay the bills. They were evicted, and with nowhere else to go, Toni was referred to Roundabout.
"When I was first told I was going to be living in a hostel I cried my eyes out and didn't want to go", she said.
"But I soon realised that this is a safe place and I can honestly say it's been the best experience of my life."
Toni is now volunteering with the National Citizen Service, helping other people develop their skills for work and life and is looking forward to getting her own place to call home soon.
Over the years, Roundabout has found that the most common risk to a young person becoming homeless is problems within the family, which often then leads to feeling the need to leave home. That is why, in June 2014, Roundabout opened their youth homeless prevention service to offer advice and support to young people aged 16 to 24. They offer a 'drop-in' service which young people can access if they have any concerns about losing their home. In addition, the mediation worker there works with young people aged 13-19 and their family members to try and re-build relationships and help them find solutions to problems, enabling a safe return home.
Roundabout chiefs strongly believe that, as long as it is safe, the best place for a young person to be is at home with their family.
In May this year, the charity’s staff and volunteers were very pleased to be awarded £380,054 in Lottery funding for the prevention service. This is sustainable funding for the next five years, meaning they will be able to help thousands of vulnerable young people and makes Sheffield one of the leading centres for youth homeless prevention.
Roundabout has now been fundraising for four years and in that time, awareness has grown about the charity.
“When recession hit the country it meant government funding was reduced” said Roundabout’s chief executive, Ben Keegan.
“Our funding has been cut in half from where it was 10 years ago and we now strongly rely on fundraising to keep providing support for young vulnerable people in Sheffield while demand for our services grows.
"Awareness plays a key part in our fundraising as we are competing with the bigger charities. The support we’ve received from the generous people of Sheffield is amazing - we wouldn’t be where we are today without them.”
Roundabout will be celebrating its 40th birthday in January next year.
To find out how you can get involved, call Ruth on 0114 253 6753. To learn more about Roundabout's services, visit www.roundabouthomeless.org.