Like many homelessness charities, we launch a specific appeal to support our services at Christmas. Our Open Doors appeal invites supporters to help us to be here for young people who need our services over the Christmas period and beyond. The cost of one day of support to one young person is £30. Many people chose to give £210 to enable us to deliver a full week of support to one young person. Through Open Doors, we aimed to raise the cost of accommodation services for Christmas week for 245 young people (though young people stay in Step by Step accommodation services for much longer than one week). We provide the secure and stable platform from which they're empowered to live the lives they aspire to.
Year round young people need our support. Christmas is especially difficult. One young person told us how they felt about the prospect of Christmas, and then what it was like for them with Step by Step;
“All leading up to Christmas I was dreading it, thinking that everyone would be putting a face on and wouldn't have actually wanted to be here, but instead that wasn't the case. We had plenty to eat and drink and were treated to a fry up when we awoke. The atmosphere was really good as everybody realised were all in the same position so we made the most of it. We had a lovely Christmas dinner in which the staff members joined us at the table and ate with us, so it was very nice.”
We want to extend a massive THANK YOU to those of you who got involved in supporting our Open Doors 2018 campaign. We were able to make Christmas special for all 245 young people who spent the festive period with us. We were overwhelmed by the financial support, the heartfelt messages, and number of people in our community who came together to contribute to our work with local young people.
Richard, one of our accommodation managers said,
"Christmas can be the hardest time for the young people here, I just want to say thank you to everyone in the community for supporting us and helping us to turn one of the hardest times of the year into a festive and happy occasion.”
We were surprised and truly touched that so many people used our tags to send a message of support for young people. The positive attitude and encouragement from so many individuals and groups helped us as a staff team to feel that we're part of a much wider support network of people. A community who care about the challenges faced, and opportunities available to young people.
Homelessness in the UK is an issue that charities like ours are working hard to address. Youth homelessness specifically is something that can be prevented through our work with young people on mental health and well-being as well supporting progress in their education or work. We offer security and opportunity to young people who would, in all likelihood, be among the 30% of young people in the UK living in poverty*, and be among the 33% of young people affected by unemployment and underemployment*. Partners in the End Youth Homelessness movement, Centrepoint released figures on the scale of youth homelessness in the UK suggesting that 103,000 young people in the UK approached their local authority because they were homeless or at risk of homelessness in 2017-18.
6,223 of those young people who were homeless or at risk last year were right here in the South-East. Our services supported young people out of homelessness;
The impact of those Christmas donations doesn't stop after the festive period ended. We have an ongoing commitment to young people in crisis; to offer services that will help them overcome whatever situation drove them to seek our help. As part of our ongoing and regular activities we will be repeating our annual sleep out at the Aldershot EBB Football Stadium on Friday 21st June. We would be delighted if you, your friends and family could join us. You can find more information over on our Sleep Out event page.
*Young People Count, Partnership for Young London, 2016