26 March 2021

Plans to give vulnerable young people a job and a home are “rapidly expanding” in London and Manchester to break the cycle of youth homelessness.

Charity Centrepoint has been given planning permission by Southwark Council to build 33 single-occupancy modular homes in Peckham, south London through its Independent Living Programme

The scheme, which was announced in October 2019, hopes to provide 300 youngsters in London and Greater Manchester with a roof over their head and an entry-level role in what the organisation claimed was the most “ambitious” project in its 50-year history. 

It is now in talks with councils in Barnet, Hounslow, Waltham Forest and Manchester to “deliver” the rest of the £50,000-per-unit properties by the end of the year. 

Chief executive Seyi Obakin said: “Our mission at Centrepoint has always been to support homeless young people in getting a job and a home.

“The Independent Living Programme builds on that idea by making housing costs affordable and giving young people the foundation they need to start a career. 

“We are so pleased to have secured planning permission in Southwark and hope other councils see the importance of what we’re doing to give homeless young people a real future and want to get involved too.” 

Young people have been hit hard by the Covid-19 pandemic. In this month’s Budget, the Chancellor announced that care leavers and vulnerable young people leaving homelessness accommodation would receive greater benefits earlier than planned.

Centrepoint said this would mean “thousands” of the most vulnerable people given a better chance of securing a home, but the fact it currently provides housing and assistance to 15,000 youngsters paints a gloomy picture of the state of youth homelessness in the UK.  

The charity said one in five youngsters using its services are ready to move on but due to a shortage of affordable homes, “restrictive” welfare policies and reductions in local authority benefits, many have nowhere to go. 

The Independent Living Programme could provide young people with the bedrock of a roof over their head and a stable job, helping to break the cycle of homelessness, the charity said. 

Young people would only be charged one-third of their salary as rent. For a 20- year old in Manchester earning minimum wage, they would pay approximately £350 a month to live alone.  

While the project hasn’t housed any young people yet, Centrepoint has invested almost £2 million.

Centrepoint’s Sally Orlopp, director of The Independent Living Programme, added: “I’ve been working with disadvantaged people for over 25 years, and this is the most exciting and innovative programme that has tangible results in transforming young people’s lives. 

“With an investment of almost £2 million from Centrepoint, we’re already maximising new opportunities by turning 8 units to 33 homes, with an ambition to create 300 within the coming year.” 

Source: Big Issue