Centrepoint has taken a radical approach to help thousands of vulnerable homeless young people off the streets with its Independent Living Programme.
As the country’s leading charity supporting the young homeless, Centrepoint understands that it’s difficult for an individual to turn their life around when they have nowhere to live.
They may already be suffering from the effects of physical abuse, have mental ill health, problems with substance abuse, or have lost everything they hold dear.
All of those are traumatic enough for anyone, but then they must cope with the trials thrown at them without a bed to call their own.
That’s the truth being faced by those who cannot afford the deposits and rents required for them to step into a more secure future.
Centrepoint recognises that more is needed to stem the tide of youth homelessness which is why it has launched its Independent Living programme.
It estimates that at least 103,000 young people approached their local council last year because they were homeless, or at risk.
However, because there is so little social housing available and rents are prohibitively high, few local authorities are able to do anything about their situation.
Centrepoint’s Independent Living Programme is set to change all that.
Under the scheme, homeless people aged between 16 and 25 are given a job and a place to live in a move that addresses the social housing shortage.
Earlier this year, Southwark council green lit a scheme which involves building 33 single-occupancy modular homes in Peckham on the site of eight old apartment blocks at a cost of £50,000 each.
The first stage of the Independent Living programme, at 54 Lugard Road in SE15, is transforming the site from its existing structure – comprised of eight units over two stories – to one boasting 33 modular units split over two blocks of three stories, as well as a communal garden, bike shed, and seating area for young people to use.
The full development of the Lugard Road property is predicted to cost a total £1.5m.
As well as planning to give 300 young people a roof over their heads, Centrepoint is ensuring they will also get entry-level or apprenticeship roles that lead to full-time employment.
It’s all about providing a future for young people who may not have had the best start in life, offering work and affordable housing to those who are ready to move on from temporary accommodation.
The way it works is simple: provide a young person with a place to live and charge them around a third of their salary, leaving them with enough to live on.
The charity is realistic about the kinds of jobs or apprenticeships that might be available to young people and has promised that they won’t be out of pocket.
Centrepoint will build the modular housing at a fraction of the price of a traditional build, and transport it to the location of its first scheme in Peckham.
Done this way, it clearly is a model with the flexibility to be applied to different places.
The Independent Living Programme is being with the help of a number of partners committed to ending youth homelessness.
Earlier this year, Centrepoint appointed British entrepreneur and investor Javad Marandi, together with financier Jamie Reuben, as co-chairs of its growth board – part of the youth homeless charity’s innovative approach to homelessness.
And there is no doubt it is having an impact.
Centrepoint will continue to offer traditional levels of support to homeless young people, including providing emergency and temporary accommodation, but when the time comes to move on there will be a chance of being helped in a way that has never been tried before.
Having a home of their own means they can open a bank account, get support for any addictions or mental health problems they have, and forge good relationships with others.
The Peckham scheme is just the beginning for the Independent Living Programme because Centrepoint is also talking to councils in Barnet, Hounslow, and Waltham Forest, as well as in Manchester, with the aim of rolling it out to other areas.
It is looking for partners to help develop the scheme, and is working with landowners to identify potential sites where it can work in partnership to deliver these much-needed homes for young people.