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Duration: 1 hour

When she was 19, Mercury Prize-winning rap artist Speech Debelle walked out of her family home and became homeless for three years. In this moving documentary, she shows that being homeless isn't just about down and outs sleeping in cardboard boxes, but is a problem which affects more and more young people in Britain today. Speech gets to know four young people from very different backgrounds - all of them sofa surfing or sleeping rough - as they try to find a more permanent roof over their heads. She discovers that councils and charities are struggling to cope with this growing crisis and she investigates the impact on young people's lives.

Last on

Thu 7 Jun 2012 02:55 BBC Three

  • Steven, 26

    Steven, 26

    Steven’s spent 7 months sleeping rough in a park in south west London. He hid his stuff in bin bags in bushes to stop it getting stolen.

    He’s now found a homeless nightshelter which lets people sleep on the floor during the winter. He says the nightshelter is rough and smelly with just a sink and toilet for everyone to wash at.

    Steven’s drifted in and out of homelessness since he was a child, when his mum’s relationship with his stepdad broke down. He didn’t enjoy school and says life on the streets is scary. He’s been beaten by gangs and covers his scars with his beard. His last girlfriend was more than a year ago. He says the biggest challenge of sleeping rough is “not falling into drink and drugs.”

    But Steven might have to return to the streets again when the nightshelter closes, and he doesn’t know what to do.

  • Jordan, 20

    Jordan, 20

    Jordan’s been sofa-surfing and sleeping rough for the last 4 years.

    He has had a volatile life and doesn’t get along with most of his family. Jordan’s girlfriend has also been homeless, but as she’s only 17, she’s been given supported accommodation. There are charities trying to help Jordan too but he doesn’t want to be separated from his girlfriend and is wary of getting tied down.

    Jordan often walks the streets of Lancashire at night when he has nowhere to stay. He says it stops him getting piles from sleeping in the cold. In the past, Jordan has slept under bridges and in doorways.

  • Sam, 25

    Sam, 25

    Sam's got a commercial music degree, plays in a band and is homeless.

    She says it's difficult to be successful when your things are scattered around because you haven’t got a home.

    Sam sometimes sleeps on her mum’s sofa in Essex. But it’s a one bedroom flat and it’s just too small for Sam and her mum. Her mum pays for her flat with housing benefit so she can’t put Sam up long term.

    Sam relies on her friends to put her up – sometimes for nights at a time. She says rent prices are too high and so she’s sofa-surfing until she finds a job that can pay the rent.

  • Nikita, 18

    Nikita, 18

    Nikita is homeless and sleeping on her sister’s sofa.

    She left home at 16 because her relationship with her mother, a recovering alcoholic, broke down. She moved in with a boyfriend, but when that relationship turned nasty she had nowhere to go.

    Nikita’s woken up every night when her sister breastfeeds her baby in the living room. She says she feels like a zombie in the mornings and knows she can’t stay forever.

    But Nikita’s frightened about the options available to young homeless people like hostels.

    She says “I’m an 18 year old girl with a history of domestic abuse. The last place I want to go is somewhere surrounded by men, much older than me. I’m prepared to work and pay rent but it’s so hard when you’ve just entered adulthood and every door has already shut in your face.”


Executive Producer
Diana Martin
Executive Producer
Diana Martin
Anna Keel
Anna Keel
Speech Debelle
Speech Debelle


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