What is Centrepoint?
From its origins as a night shelter in the basement of a church in Soho during the 1960s, Centrepoint has grown into a leading charity for young homeless people across the UK – and not just in the English capital.
It’s an organisation that can turn lives around, taking a proactive approach to youth homelessness in innovative and effective ways.
However, what has to be its most ambitious and urgent mission was launched earlier this year.
Its objective? To put an end to youth homelessness by 2037.
The charity, together with its partners, already provides support for more than 14,000 young people every year.
It does so by finding them accommodation, tackling health issues that may have led to their situation, and giving them practical help while they look for employment or, if they want to, get back into education.
What does Centrepoint do?
Homelessness comes with a whole set of problems which often aren’t solved just by putting a roof over someone’s head.
However, finding people accommodation is key, and Centrepoint runs more than 60 accommodation services nationally, working in 15 boroughs in London as well as in Sunderland, Manchester, Bradford and Barnsley.
Its work with young people is varied.
Paramount is ensuring they feel secure and they are healthy. The in-house health team works with young people on a wide range of issues covering mental health, drug abuse, nutrition and healthy relationships with others.
The charity’s main aim is for young people to be equipped with skills to be able to live and grow to their full potential, and it does this by providing education opportunities, training information, and guidance.
They’ll get support whether it’s applying to go to university or acquiring life skills such as opening a bank account or budgeting to manage their income.
There are classes to help individuals improve their basic maths and English, in addition to support to express themselves through drama, fashion, dance, music and photography.
Whether they need money for course fees or to help with childcare, travel to their workplace or a laptop for college, Centrepoint’s young people can access financial help in the form of a bursary.
Centrepoint has set itself the challenge of ending youth homelessness by 2037.
But why that date? Well, because any young person born in 2021 will turn 16 in 2037, the year in which they may need help from Centrepoint.
Essentially, the charity’s wish is for youth homelessness to end by the time the next generation comes of age.
This isn’t something it can achieve solely as a charity tackling youth homelessness alone, and it is working with a wide range of people to help reach this key target.
One major initiative comes with the appointment of two new board members; British entrepreneur and investor, Javad Marandi OBE, and financier Jamie Reuben – both of whom have been appointed co-chairs of Centrepoint’s Growth Board.
The growth board is spearheading Centrepoint’s Independent Living Programme (ILP), which is the most ambitious scheme ever to be undertaken in the youth homelessness charity’s 50-year history.
It’s a multi-million pound project that’s unlike anything else in the world, and is a major innovation in the efforts to stop youth homelessness.
It will enable the most vulnerable young people to build sustainable careers without a simultaneous burden of market housing costs.
Through ILP, Centrepoint’s commitment to building 300 homes across London and Greater Manchester aims to change the prospects of young homeless people.
Those aged between 16 and 25, who struggle with or are at risk of homelessness but whose prospects have improved with the help of Centrepoint’s frontline services, and have entry-level jobs or apprenticeships, will be able to live independently in modern, safe, and affordable homes paying rents that are capped at around a third of their salary.
In this way, Centrepoint is harnessing the creativity, entrepreneurship and lobbying power of a broad spectrum of partners, all united with the same aim of ending youth homelessness by the time the next generation comes around.
Solutions already having a positive effect include homeless prevention activity in Manchester, mental health support in Barnsley, parent and child services in Sunderland and routes into employment in Bradford.
Centrepoint may have started life in London, but it is working to end youth homelessness across the country and maybe even beyond, taking a new, exciting approach to a problem that should never impact anyone who is young and just starting out on their life’s journey.