For most the word homelessness conjures up images of people sleeping on streets or begging for change. However, this picture does not apply to the tens of thousands of young people who find themselves homeless every year.
Those under 21 are far more likely to be sofa-surfing, staying with friends or acquaintances in situations that are at best unstable and at worst unsafe. 76.5% of young people who come to New Horizon Youth Centre are not sleeping on the streets and so are in many respects invisible, overlooked by politicians, the media and the public when addressing the problem of homelessness.
The number of young people approaching their council for support last year was over three times higher than the official number of young people recorded as homeless by the Department for Communities and Local Government, and this startling gap between official figures and the reality of youth homelessness is explained by a sofa surfing epidemic which is hiding the sheer scale of the problem.
To mark our 50th anniversary we are calling for corporate and individual supporters to help us continue to transform the lives of London’s homeless young people, in our '#sofachange' campaign fronted by our patron Jon Snow.
A key aspect of this campaign will be a traveling installation in which a sofa will be exhibited at London institutions including Tate Modern and the British Library. Members of the public will be encouraged to take selfies on the sofa and post them to social media using the hashtag #sofachange to raise awareness and funds to tackle the problem.
Our sofa at the British Library.
By finding them accommodation, training, jobs and providing holistic practical and emotional support, we help these young people escape the trap of sleeping rough or sofa surfing.
If you want to get in touch or share your thoughts just use the hashtag #NHYC