When I was approached by BBC Lifeline to help make a film highlighting the work of Depaul UK I didn’t hesitate.
Homeless charities, especially those helping young people are really close to my heart. When I think back to my upbringing it’s easy to become a bit rose-tinted; I was lucky enough to have a very happy childhood but the truth is I know there were lots of tricky times for my parents which they did their best to shield me from. Unemployment, divorce, lack of money and the pressures of raising a young family all took their toll on my family, but this is where my story differs from the stories of the young people who are helped by Depaul UK. No matter how stressed my mum was (or how stroppy as a teenager I was!) my parents always stood by me and I was never left to face the big bad world all by myself.
The young people who turn to Depaul UK aren’t so lucky; they're often struggling to cope with backgrounds of neglect, poverty and changing family circumstances; some are fleeing physical, mental and sexual abuse. drugs and alcohol may also be involved. Depaul UK is there to help these young people before they fall prey to darker influences on the streets, including drugs, drink and prostitution.
It’s our duty to help these youngsters reach their full potential, they deserve the same chances we all had.
Depaul UK believes that no young person should have to sleep rough, and that everyone should have a place to call home and a stake in their community.Depaul UK
With 38 projects across the country, we are the largest youth homelessness charity in the UK, working with over 4000 young people each year.
Our accommodation projects across the UK provide more than just a bed. We work with young people to find a durable solution to homelessness and help them pave their way towards independent living and financial stability.
The projects offer everything from short term emergency accommodation to longer term arrangements for those with high support needs, and because all of our services are integrated, we can offer young people truly holistic support which includes training, education, family mediation, prison resettlement and volunteering. We help young people build up the skills and confidence they need to regain stability in their lives and boost their employability.
Many of the young people we work with have fled abusive homes, been in the care system, have substance abuse problems, suffer from mental health illnesses and have served juvenile sentences. Many have no where to go and have been turned away by their families, friends and other services who were unable to help them.
Depaul UK believe in helping young people meet their potential, and your support can help us can help them as they make positive moves to turn their lives around.
Eighteen year old Hannah grew up in Kent with her half brother and sister. There were often heated arguments, but in 2008 it got worse when her parent’s business went bust and her mother suffered a breakdown and violent mood swings. The rows at home became more frequent and more aggressive. Like many young people Hannah felt she had no choice but to leave home.
Last summer Hannah spent weeks with no fixed place to stay, before finding her way to one of Depaul UK’s high-support hostels in Kent.
Each hostel has full time project workers, like Gillian, who offer each young person much-needed emotional support. Gillian has helped over 80 young people since she started working for the charity 9 years ago. As well as emotional support a fundamental philosophy of Depaul UK is to offer practical help.
Gillian made sure that Hannah, like all other Depaul UK residents, attended compulsory weekly meetings, where she gave her advice on independent living, employment and training.
With Gillian’s help, last year Hannah put herself forward for a course in massage therapy at her local college. She’s now nearly finished and has already found herself a job.
Hannah says “I’m proud of what I’ve done and how far I’ve got. And now I want to make sure that I can be the best that I want to be, and keep going until I get there, until I get to being in my perfect place.”
Sam is twenty one and grew up in Newcastle with his parents and younger sister. While they appeared a happy family to those on the outside, Sam didn’t find it easy at home. One day an argument about whether Sam could stay over at a friend’s house escalated and went too far. Sam left and went to his friend’s, when he came back home he found his bags packed and on the doorstep. His father had had enough and at 17 years old Sam found himself thrown out of home.
Sam spent the next few years staying at hostels and friends’ houses. Then one day he found himself with nowhere else to go, until a friend suggested he call Depaul UK.
Since 1989 the charity has been providing safe emergency accommodation for young people in the homes of approved volunteers which they call Night-Stop. The volunteers are mainly parents whose children have left home. The charity does the necessary security checks and the volunteers let the young people into their homes, providing a meal and a room for a night or two at short notice.
Sam stayed with charity volunteer Eleanora for several weekends last autumn. Sam says
“She did me make me feel, very, very welcome. I used to talk about my family, my experiences; she was very understanding & very supportive. It was just a relief to have a role model back in my life.”
Sam is now living in shared accommodation, earning money and starting to get his life back on track.
“Thanks to Eleanora egging me on I am looking to finish off my Sports Science BTEC level 3 and then go to university and do physiotherapy.”
- Sara Cox
- Executive Producer
- Lisa Ausden