Sleep Easy’ Knowing You Are Helping to Keep Local Young People Off the Streets
Sleep Easy is YMCA DownsLink Group’s biggest fundraising event of the year. Across Sussex and Surrey hundreds of people challenge themselves to spend a night outside to raise money for this local youth charity which works throughout the year to tackle the root causes of youth homelessness. This year, the charity aims to raise £60,000 to support local young people and is encouraging people, of all ages and from all walks of life, to sign up to one of its four events across the region (Guildford, Horsham, Eastbourne and Brighton & Hove) on Friday 20 March 2020. In West Sussex the mass sleepout event will be hosted by YMCA Horsham at their football ground.
Across the UK, recent research* estimates that over 103,000 young people are homeless or at risk of homelessness. These figures only include young people who have asked their local council for help, so the true figure is likely to be much higher. The causes of youth homelessness are varied and complex, however one of the main reasons for youth homelessness is family breakdown; a young person being told to leave the family home or leaving because it isn’t safe to stay. The frightening reality for many young people is suddenly having nowhere to call home; favours from extended family or friends run out and they can quickly find themselves on the streets.
Effective, early intervention for young people at risk of homelessness is essential. YMCA DownsLink Group run a range of integrated services across West Sussex, including Horsham and Crawley, to help prevent young people becoming homeless in the first place. From family mediation and free youth advice centres (YMCA YAC), to one to one casework with young people at risk of sexual exploitation (YMCA WiSE) and supported accommodation, YMCA DownsLink Group’s services enable all young people to gain the skills they need to thrive and live independently.
A group of young people who are particularly at risk of homelessness are care leavers and, for some, traumatic experiences in their early years can make them especially vulnerable. Almost 30% of the young people living in YMCA DownsLink Group supported housing fall into this category. YMCA DownsLink Group provides a vital stepping stone for those young people (16-18) who aren’t ready to live alone. ‘More Than a Room’ is a programme offered to all young residents which gives them access to a host of services, from training & employment to wellbeing and personal safety support, which help them develop the life skills they need to move on successfully. In 2019, over 70% of the young people living in YMCA supported accommodation moved on positively to independent living.
Another significant factor in the cause of youth homelessness is the rise in mental health issues. YMCA DownsLink Group works extensively to help all young people by offering specialist support through counselling services (YMCA Dialogue) both in the community and via schools. Last year the charity provided 3,500 children, young people and families with therapy. In addition, around 68% of the young people living in YMCA supported accommodation suffer with mental health difficulties. Some of the money raised by Sleep Easy will ensure that these young people receive the therapeutic care they need to successfully transition into independent living.
Although it is a tough challenge, Sleep Easy is a great community event to be part of. It doesn’t seek to replicate the experience of homelessness but gives an insight into the challenges young people face. Those looking to host their own event on a date of their choice are also welcome, with downloadable tools available on the website (ymcadlg.org). YMCA DownsLink Group is encouraging everyone taking part to secure sponsorship and the money raised will help fund their vital services for local young people.
To find out more or sign up visit Sleep Easy (https://www.ymcadlg.org/get-involved/fundraise/sleep-easy/)