Teenagers sit out for homelessness advice

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Thirteen local teenagers from Medway Youth Trust staged a sit out on Eastbourne’s Terminus Road last Saturday, to raise awareness for StreetLink, which connects rough sleepers to local advice and services 24/7.

The young people took to the street, as part of their National Citizen Service programme where they commit to 30 hours of voluntary work for a cause that impacts their community.

The group decided to direct the public’s attention to StreetLink after learning that over the last 12 months, 94 referrals have been made in Eastbourne with national statistics reaching 26,979 in the same time frame. Other referrals in local areas totalled 41 in Hastings and 29 in Lewes.

StreetLink enables the public to alert local authorities in England and Wales about rough sleepers in their area, which triggers an outreach worker to visit the individual within 72 hours.

Stephen Ackerman 17, one of the 13 youngsters to take part, said, “We were really surprised at the amount of support we received from people in town that day.

“Lots of people came up to us and said that they had slept rough themselves and three men asked for help to phone the hotline there and then. I didn’t realise so many people didn’t have a home.”

Homelessness is on the rise. The Guardian published the government’s most recent rough sleeping statistics report, which outlined 3,569 people sleeping on the streets in England in autumn 2015, up 825 (30 per cent) from the total of 2,744 in autumn 2014.

Eastbourne MP Caroline Ansell supported the event.

She said, “It’s great to see young people foster a regard for others they can carry forward into their adult lives.

“It shows that young people care very much about where they live and who lives there.”

Help link someone sleeping on the street with local advice and services by calling 0300 500 0914 or visiting www.streetlink.org.uk

If you know anyone aged 16-17 who would like more information about the National Citizen Service call Kirsty Wilson on 01323 410803.

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