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Coping with the third biggest cause of youth homelessness

16 October 2015

In our look at the main causes of youth homelessness, we hear from Foyer Federation networking assistant Theresa, who has been homeless in the past.

Homeless Link’s Young and Homeless report found that the 3rd biggest cause of youth homelessness was unemployment, with 57% of young homeless people not in training, education or employment.

One of the many projects the Big Lottery Fund funds that supports young homeless people is The Foyer Federation with their Pop-up Talent project, which gave 2,500 young people opportunities of career experience across many different fields.

Theresa at a desk with a phone in hand

Theresa shares her experience

Theresa has worked at Foyer Federation for two years, but at one point during her life was homeless:

“I was doing my GCSE’s and going through a hard time with my family. There was quite a lot of stress and even though I passed my exams, my family problems just continued.

“I was forced to leave the family home and began looking for help. I had no stable home so it was really hard especially not knowing there are organisations out there to help. I used a lot of hotspots to get Wi-Fi in order to do research and try and figure out what to do.

“I was lucky that I had friends to stay with, but I was just going from house to house. Different friends would put me up at different times. It was unsettling though not having any stability. Sometimes there was conflict as we were getting in each other’s space.

“It’s different having a friend and then staying with them all the time -it makes things more complicated. I was stressed a lot of the time and didn’t eat or sleep properly for a while. At one point I didn’t even have enough money to buy food.

“I was looking for jobs, but as I had no money and no experience I would have to ask friends if I could borrow money, but then I wouldn’t have it to pay them back.

“A friend suggested that I get in touch with Connections and they referred me to Barking Foyer. By this stage, I had decided I definitely didn’t want to go to university and wanted to get a job.

“Barking Foyer didn’t have accommodation for me right away as there was a waiting list at the time. They did help me sort out my CV though and after six weeks I got a job as a receptionist at an estate agent.

“It was brilliant and really boosted my confidence. It made me feel secure. I had money to pay rent and to look after myself.

“After three months I got accommodation with Foyer. I was one of the first for the viewings so I even had a  choice – I couldn’t believe it!

Foyer Federation

About the Foyer Federation

“Since then, I’ve went on to work with Foyer Federation in 2013 and I know that we are helping people who have been or are in similar situations to myself. I knew deep down I always wanted to do that and I’m very passionate about it.

“I feel really proud of myself and I can share my experience to help others overcome the things I’ve had to.

“I see a person sleeping on the streets- which is something I never had to do, but they ask for money and nobody helps them. I don’t think that people should judge because you never know the circumstances of how they have ended up there.

“My advice for people going through the same thing would be to keep motivated. Although you will feel alone and as though nobody cares, you have to stay strong and be your own motivator. And the biggest factor is don’t be afraid to ask for help because there is a lot of help out there and someone does care about you.”

It’s obvious that paid employment can bring with it skills, self-confidence, daily structure and most importantly income, which can all act as lines of security. As Theresa’s story shows, homelessness could be a prospect for any of us, or anyone we know, not just ‘other people’, and a secure job can be a key part of the fabric that spun together makes that safety.

Click to read more about youth homelessness

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