The young people's forum at New Horizon Youth Centre is chaired and run by homeless and vulnerable young people from throughout London and the UK.
Over the past few months they have discussed the forthcoming general election and what it means for them. Their asks are shared here in their manifesto.
As Shauna said "we are invisible and our needs are being ignored". With that in mind they asked Ben, our student photographer, to help them reflect their demands in photo shoots across London.
The forum has been sharing their needs with groups and politicians and will continue to push them with the political parties up to and after the General Election.
1. Affordable accommodation that enables young people to go to work
We want to work and get on with our lives.
However the increasingly high cost of rented properties together with increased deposits and rent in advance makes it impossible for many young people to secure a rented property.
We need a helping hand to live in decent affordable accommodation which will enable us to earn a living that will cover our rent and basic living costs.
2. Living Wage
We need to earn a living wage in order to cover our basic costs.
Currently many young people are being paid a minimum wage which makes it impossible to survive, especially in London. We should also have equal pay as our costs are the same as people over 21. We have to pay the same rate of tax as older people and should not be discriminated against in our wages.
We ask you to re-instate the Back-to-Work Programme which gave us two weeks support when changing from benefits to paid employment. This lifeline ensured that we did not get into rent arrears or lose our housing in the first month of working. It really helped young homeless people and now it’s gone completely.
3. Recognise the vulnerability of young homeless people before benefit sanctions are applied
Many of us have been given benefit sanctions without any consideration for our circumstances.
For instance, one of our young people got a 12-week sanction for not attending an appointment but they never received the appointment letter because of his homelessness.
We need recognise the vulnerability of young people before benefit sanctions are applied.
4. EEA nationals should not be discriminated against in relation to housing and benefits
All young people should be entitled to benefits no matter where they come from as this is the only money they will have until they start work.
Young migrants and asylum-seekers need basic rights. Migrants should be given good advice and representation to enable them to secure basic rights and access to essential services.
5. Young people with mental health issues should not lose benefits
If we are being assessed on mental health grounds, we should not lose our benefits.
After an assessment, there should be a fast-track pathway to enable us to maintain our accommodation and prevent our mental health deteriorating.
If you want to get in touch or share your thoughts just use the hashtag #NHYC
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