Tackling Youth Homelessness – Joshua’s Story
The London Youth Gateway partnership project has been shortlisted for the prestigious Andy Ludlow Awards 2014, sponsored by the London Housing Foundation, Shelter and London Councils. This is Joshua’s story about how the partnership makes a difference.
Joshua (21) rents a room in shared private accommodation and is very busy with an apprenticeship he loves. How different it was nearly a year ago when he was sleeping rough and in trouble with the law:
“I was on the wrong track, with the wrong friends, making the wrong decisions. I’d come out of prison and couldn’t stay with my family anymore, so ended up the street. I was a right mess, but really wanted to get on with life and never return to prison. And then my probation worker linked me in with the London Youth Gateway.”
The London Youth Gateway is a new partnership of New Horizon Youth Centre, Alone in London, Depaul UK and Stonewall Housing, each established youth homelessness providers, and the latter’s LGBT Jigsaw partners Albert Kennedy Trust, Pace and Galop. By combining their resources of a day centre, specialist advice services, emergency accommodation and an LGBT service provider, the London Youth Gateway can offer a one-stop shop service to young people (16-25 years) who are homeless or at risk. This means that someone who initially engages with the project because they need somewhere to stay that night will be automatically given access to a wider range of services to help them rebuild their life.
“My first appointment was with New Horizon Youth Centre advice team, who wanted to make sure I’d have somewhere safe to stay that same night. They contacted Depaul UK, who helped me to get emergency accommodation at one of their Nightstop hosts. It was just such a relief not having to sleep on the street anymore! After a while New Horizon helped me find a place at a hostel.
As soon as I had somewhere stable to stay, I started to work on changing everything. Since I started working with the London Youth Gateway I’ve sorted out my CV, learned new techniques and been working part-time. And now I’m doing an apprenticeship. I’ve also started to meet new people – not like the old ones who got me into trouble, but people who are proper friends.
I also really had to learn how to take care of myself. Things like budgeting, paying bills and rent on time, being on time – things I’d never got a chance to pick up at home. The Independent Living Skills workshops at New Horizon really helped me with that. I moved from the hostel into a room in a shared house via the private rented accommodation scheme of New Horizon.
I haven’t been in any trouble since the London Youth Gateway started to support me. Everyone is so welcoming and they work together really well. The staff are all on a level and you feel they really want the best for you – you can easily approach them at any time. The London Youth Gateway has boosted my confidence and I’ve got plans for the future.”