Throughout this Covid-19 year we’ve seen young people being most exposed to the wide-ranging impact of the pandemic, with many also driven to the streets. Between July-September 2020 11% of all people sleeping rough in London were under-25; a 48% increase on the same period in 2019 and an all-time high.
In our services alone, there was a 20% increase of new young people sleeping rough over the coldest winter months, 66% of whom were under 21 and 55% had additional support needs. We also saw a 140% increase in the number of young women resorting to sleeping rough. For two-thirds of these young people we ended up paying for a stay in a backpackers’ hostels whilst they waited for other housing options.
While this kept young people off the streets and gave them somewhere warm to sleep, these are not the safest or most appropriate spaces for them. This is why we, together with sector partners, raised the urgent necessity for a youth-specific solution. We are pleased that young people’s experiences of rough sleeping have been heard, and that this new provision will now tailor to the circumstances and needs of this age group.
Enter Hotel 1824
Hotel 1824, a refurbished 40 bed hotel in West London, will accommodate up to 350 young people over the coming year and in turn save lives. This provision will strengthen the safety net for the most at risk, giving young people in London at danger of sleeping rough a safe place to stay in the short term as we find them somewhere to call home in the long term.
In collaboration with our London Youth Gateway partners, the project will give residents complete wraparound support. Depaul will use their experience delivering accommodation projects for young people to run the property and will be providing 24/7 onsite support workers. Alongside its youth-focused street outreach, New Horizon will offer specialist advice, help young people into move on options and provide a wide range of services such as counselling, healthcare, independent life skills development, and education and employment support. Young people will also be able to access family mediation and immigration advice.
A collaborative effort
The project wouldn’t have been possible without the work of our staff, funders, partners during this very challenging year. Hotel 1824 is an encouraging first step towards permanent solutions for young people in London and exciting proof of what the sector can do when we work together.
Our CEO Phil Kerry shared:
Young people have been hit disproportionately hard by the pandemic and we’ve seen worrying numbers of young rough sleepers coming to us for help. That’s why we’re delighted to be collaborating with the GLA, London Councils and Depaul on this solution and why we are so hopeful it will ensure every young persons’ potential has a home.
You can read more about the project on the Greater London Assembly website.
Who will benefit?
Hotel 1824 will provide a respite for those in desperate housing need and give young people sleeping rough or about to become street homeless a safe space created with their needs in mind. It means we could make sure that young people like Demola, Lucas and Leon could find security by helping them move into the hostel during its first week and start getting their lives back on track.
- Demola (23) approached us in January. He was rough sleeping after his mother and stepdad forced him to leave his family home – their already poor relationship had worsened during the pandemic. He was met by our outreach team and put into a hotel we paid for. He will be staying at Hotel 1824 for just a couple of weeks as he is in the process of getting private rented accommodation. Demola is keen to start working so we’re also supporting him to achieve this aim.
- Lucas (19) and Leon (18) are brothers. They have been sofa surfing since October, but the arrangements had fallen apart and they started sleeping rough in the staircase of a block of flats. They came to us in February after hearing about New Horizon from friend and then making an online self-referral. The brothers are particularly vulnerable to exploitation, so we placed them immediately in a hotel at our own cost. They have now moved into Hotel 1824 where they feel safe. We have now started working with them on their move-on into stable accommodation.