Youth homelessness: 'Shelters are full every night' – BBC

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'I thought I'd be at university, not homeless'
"We're trapped in a world where there's no growth," says Kaitlyn, who is 19. "It's not easy to get a job, save money, go back to school."
After being kicked out by her parents, she was left homeless and turned to charities to help rebuild her life.
Homelessness charities say Kaitlyn is far from alone, with rising reports of rough sleeping and people at risk of eviction during the economic hardship.
They are collectively calling for more support for young people at risk.
Analysis from homelessness charity Centrepoint, shared exclusively with BBC Newsbeat, reveals their helpline is the busiest it's ever been since it started five years ago.
Kaitlyn wants to see more funding for youth groups and education centres as well as more affordable accommodation.
"There needs to be a solid service for 18-25 year olds who are homeless to help specifically so we get the support we need and the help catered to us," she says.
"If I could talk to the government, I'd say they need to understand how different the world is and that it keeps changing every year."
"The economy, education, jobs, everything has changed."
Centrepoint says demand for its services has jumped since October and the number of people needing their help has doubled since the pandemic started.
"Our night shelter has been full since Covid restrictions lifted so we have eight young people each night," says Rob Swarbrick.
He runs Streetlife, a Centrepoint partner charity working with 16 to 25-year-olds in Blackpool.
"Sixty to 80 young people come to us each week for different reasons, be it therapy or somewhere to sleep," he says.
One of those supported by Streetlife is 25-year-old Ree'Cee. She's been homeless in the past and now works as a care worker.
"I've slept in cardboard boxes, sofa surfed, stayed in abandoned places – it's been a mixture of everything," she says.
She's struggled with her mental health and says the charity helped her find places to stay and to stabilise her relationship with her family.
Cale, 25, was also helped by the charity after leaving home due to issues with his parents.
"I realised I needed to leave home and that I'd rather be homeless than be there," he says.
He was homeless for a year and admits having issues with drug misuse.
Cale stayed in the night shelter in Blackpool before being moved into a hostel.
"I've probably had depression more than half my life," he says.
"More needs to be done to help young, vulnerable people in this country."
Streetlife and Centrepoint, alongside other charities including Shelter, Crisis, DePaul, YMCA England and Wales, the Big Issue Group, Llamau, End Youth Homelessness Cymru, and Simon Community in Northern Ireland, have all called for more support for young people facing homelessness.
Many of the organisations who spoke to Newsbeat say the difference in certain benefit payments makes it "unfair" for under-25s.
Universal Credit payments are lower for 18 to 24 year olds and Rob says young people "don't have enough to live on".
Rob adds that among the young people he works with, more than half of their Universal Credit payments are spent on paying electricity and heating bills.
There's also concern about paying rent. Shelter says nearly 50,000 private renters under 25 in England are behind on their payments.
The charity also told Newsbeat more than 21,000 16 to 24-year-olds have been threatened with eviction in recent months.
As a result, more young people could end up on the streets, the group of charities says.
Centrepoint says in the past two months alone it's seen a 45% increase in rough sleeping among the young people it supports.
The number of people sofa-surfing has gone up by 31% in the same time, it says.
While Rob continues his work in Blackpool, the local council says it has stepped up the support on offer ready for the winter and works closely with charities like his.
A spokesperson said the cost of living means rent and bills are really affecting those on lower incomes because their benefits don't match up.
The government says it's provided an extra £50m for support this winter on top of the £316m already in place.
It has also pledged to increase benefits in line with inflation – but not until April 2023.
The Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities also says it's up to local councils to help with youth homelessness.
While "every day is a challenge", Cale says, he is recovering and noticing improvements in his mental health.
"Charities like Streetlife are a life raft," he says. "Without it, people our age who need help would be drowning."
If you have been affected by the issues raised in this article, help and support is available via BBC Action Line.
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Listen to Newsbeat live at 12:45 and 17:45 weekdays – or listen back here.
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The Streetlife Trust
Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities
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