With the annual Primesight conference taking place in September, a company meeting was held to inform us all that we would be required to split into groups and create a response to brief, which we would then have to present back to the entire company at said conference. The brief: how to tackle the issue of homelessness.
Wrong. In my first meeting with my team, it quickly became clear how complex this issue actually is. There’s a myriad of factors to consider; who is it that we want to help? Homeless people in a specific area, city, or nationwide? Is there a type of homeless person that we want to focus our attention on? Refugees, army veterans, young people, substance abusers, or just the general homeless population? Even once we’ve focused on who in particular it is that we want to help, how do we go about helping them? Should we volunteer at a shelter or a soup kitchen? Should we raise money? Should we donate food and clothing to them? Or should we try and incorporate media into our response to brief and create a campaign that will benefit a charity of choice?
Fortunately, our team quickly reached a general consensus on what we wanted our response to brief to focus on: we wanted to help tackle the problem of youth homelessness in London. With all of us working in the nation’s capital, we’ve witnessed first-hand the growing number of young homeless people on the streets. It’s extremely upsetting to see, but it’s also ludicrous that it’s even happening; the UK is a first-world country, and London itself is awash with bars, shops and pop-up cafes based on the latest superfood craze. How can we still live in an age where young people are finding their opportunities so limited and general living so difficult?
There is no one answer to this; alongside the ever-increasing cost of living in the capital, there remains veteran issues such as a young person having an unstable family life or home environment, a lack of access to or even attention from the education or healthcare authorities, mental health issues, substance abuse. The list goes on, and the stark contrast between our lives full of privilege and opportunity compared to that of a young homeless person resonated deeply.
Once we had decided that we wanted to specifically focus on the matter of youth homelessness, Centrepoint became the obvious choice as a charity for us to pledge our support to. Instead of being your generic ‘donate some money to us and we’ll give them a room for a night’ company, they address youth homelessness with a long-term solution. The money raised for Centrepoint will not only accommodate a young homeless person in one of their designated houses, but will also be used to provide them with healthcare, counselling, an education and life coaching, so that they may learn to live independently, manage budgets, pay bills and survive in the adult world.
Speaking with members of the Centrepoint team confirmed our suspicion that the main obstacle they face in eradicating youth homelessness is a lack of funding. Government budget cuts have hit the organization hard, and the charity’s decreasing income means that it becomes evermore reliant on the donations of the public. Thus, our response to brief became obvious: we wanted to help raise money for Centrepoint so that it can continue to help, educate and care for young homeless people in the hope that they can build a life for themselves off the streets.
Then came the final question: how should we fundraise? It’s all very well and good having a bake sale or a group sporting event, but our group was adamant that we wanted to do something that would not only raise funds for Centrepoint, but also increase public awareness around youth homelessness and what Centrepoint is doing to combat it. The representatives from Centrepoint spoke about how they have hosted sponsored sleep-outs in the past, and this was an idea that we all felt would fit perfectly with what we wanted to do. We would ask family, friends and the public to donate to our group cause, but the act of actually having to sleep on the street would demonstrate just how real the issue of youth homelessness is, and how lucky we are that this is something we’re doing only for one night instead of it being a way of life.
We haven’t set a fundraising target as such; our aim is to raise as much money as we can so that we can pledge long-term support to Centrepoint and the work that it is doing. One of the volunteers there told us that it costs £16 per month to sponsor a room for a young homeless person at their centres. £16 per month to give a young homeless person a place to call their own, a place where they can be cared for, get an education, work through their issues, find a job and receive healthcare and continued support. I’m not looking forward to sleeping on the street for a night, but when a charity is offering a long-term solution to the matter of youth homelessness, I’m happy to get my sleeping bag out.
We are continuing to raise funds for Centrepoint through our Just Giving page. All the money donated will go directly to Centrepoint to help end youth homelessness: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/primesights...