Britain's Hidden Homeless aren't represented in any government statistics. These are people with no fixed abode, who are sofa surfing, squatting, who the council can't afford to help because they're not a priority, people who are long term 'visitors' at different friends' houses or go back and forth on night buses all night long. These are people who may be working alongside you.
Young people without family support and no way of scraping together a deposit are stuck because without somewhere to live, they are in constant deficit. The stress of finding somewhere to stay every night can cause depression and instability, and being a young single homeless person means you are not treated as a priority for council housing, so you're left with few options.
I felt passionately about making this documentary. I've had my own experiences with being homeless and have met many others in similar situations. The lack of stability, the anxiety of not knowing what would happen next, the impossibility of planning for the future is something that nobody should have to go through.
I wanted to highlight this growing problem; people just don't realise the scale of it. It is frustrating to see, particularly when the government are trying to cut legal aid for housing issues, reducing the little help that is available and hostels are closing.
The situation has got much worse since the time I spent sofa surfing and in hostels. There's far less space in social housing. This year, housing benefit will not support 25 - 35 year old people claiming for a flat - they will have to get rooms in shared houses. Also, because people are now unable to buy their own homes there is now less space in the rental market. Unemployment is rising. People are downsizing. All of this creates a housing squeeze that is felt most by vulnerable young people.
The programme shows the tip of the iceberg, and I'd like to thank the young people involved for allowing us to film them. Stephen's last scene is very powerful and inspiring. You have to remember that not having a stable home can have such a huge emotional effect that it becomes easy to get stuck in the same situation for too long when faced with many practical difficulties. And as for some people not featured here - their sense of worth is such that they have dropped out of society entirely. This is why places like hostels with careers advice and counselling are so important. And the cuts affect the survival of many such projects.
For me Sam's story was very poignant. She's a graduate but because her mother had to downsize and Sam hasn't been able to find work, she has found herself homeless. The economic downturn is creating a generation like Sam who, even with a university degree, is bearing the brunt of the cuts. Her story shows homelessness could happen to any of us.
With this economic crisis, many young graduates have to accept internships which only pay expenses. So only those with wealthier parents to support them are able to take this path. That means ambitious young people from less fortunate backgrounds are at a disadvantage straight away and more than you think are already homeless, sofa surfing and sleeping rough secretly.
Many won't even speak up about being homeless because it's such a shameful subject to speak about. However, this issue is not going away anytime soon, in fact it's likely to get worse. I hope that by seeing Britain's Hidden Homeless people will realise the importance of the issue and help me to keep drawing attention to a problem facing more and more young people every day.
Britain's Hidden Homeless is on tonight at 9pm