New Horizon's Women's Group has provided a safe haven to homeless young women at our centre for many years now, however we're very aware of the need to help the young men we support with the many pressures and challenges they face.
That's why we set up Men's Group, a weekly session now taking place late on a Thursday which can involve anything from debates and film screenings to performances and film-making! To find out more about who attends Men's Group and how it benefits them we interviewed Jon, Marvin and Stefan:
What brought you to New Horizon?
Stefan: I came to the UK to look for work but lost my passport, so now I can’t get a job to pay for a hostel. One day two people from Camden Council found me sleeping in Kings Cross station, they bought me coffee, we had a lovely chat and they said I should go to New Horizon as they would help me. It’s a great place, there are nice people, I can eat and take a shower. I want to work in customer service, in restaurants or pubs.
Marvin: I came out of jail and went home but had problems with my Mum, because of that I’m not allowed to back to the house. I spoke to my probation and they were talking to me about finding private shared accommodation and she referred me to this place [NHYC]. Right now I’m trying to get my accommodation sorted out. Some days I sleep at a friend’s house, some days I sleep on a bus.
Jon: I was in Paris and my plan was also to come to London to get a job, but before I got here I was robbed. I had my passport, ID card, £2000 in cash, brand new clothes, phone, Kindle, everything you need to start a new life and survive while you get work. I had just £200 and my ID card left in my boots, so I managed to get to London and then slept in Victoria Station. On my third day here I managed to get cash in hand work as a bartender but I was homeless for three weeks while working. I started going to a church that was open late where you could get food, sleeping bags, hair cuts, which is where I heard about New Horizon. Later with my earnings I was able to pay for a place in a hostel.
What do you think are the main challenges that young men face?
M: What makes it difficult is certain responsibilities, for example that saying “the man is the head of the house”, the man has to provide for the family. Not saying that women don’t have a part to play but the men have to make sure everyone is being looked after.
J: I think for me it’s like I want to do everything by myself, I just have help now to get back on my feet. I’ve worked since I was a kid, I never had someone to ask to borrow money or anything like that so I was a bit of a lone wolf, also looking after other people. Younger guys are a little bit softer now though.
S: Most men have a lot of pride and asking for help can be a weakness, it’s important to represent yourself as a strong person so people don’t take advantage of you, that’s what I think. Nobody will help you unless you help yourself.
J: There are situations especially where you’re younger where it’s difficult and you want to ask for help but it’s hard.
How often have you been to Men’s Group?
M: I've been twice.
S: For me it was the first time yesterday. It was great, I enjoyed it a lot, we watched a comedy and everyone was laughing, we had a lovely chat before and after with food.
J: We were speaking about all kinds of things, what’s going in our lives, what we’re doing tomorrow. Right now we have a plan to go to Wembley to see the England vs USA match.
S: USA have a football team?!
J: Mostly Men’s group is just a chance to have fun and talk freely, speak about the things we do every day or maybe more private things.
S: We had a very interesting question yesterday about what a debate is, I think it’s a battle to prove that you’re right and other people are wrong, other people said it was just like a discussion. We didn’t decide what we thought.
J: No it's not a battle, you just say your point once and that’s it.
Are there things you can discuss in Men’s Group that you can’t in a mixed group?
J: Maybe we are more true to ourselves, we swear a bit more! Maybe we talk more about personal things, for example using condoms, we don’t speak about that with women
S: You are more comfortable to discuss those things.
Have you found it a good place to meet new people?
S: It’s a very interesting place to observe many new people, I realized how many people are totally different
J: Different parts of the world, cultures, language, there are quite a few French-speaking people here now! We speak French together.
Do you feel people going to Men’s Group are having a hard time outside of the group?
J: It depends on the person I suppose, here we just meet up for a good time and socialize and become part of the community
S: I’m sleeping rough now and for the few days I’ve been here I've heard that there's no accommodation anywhere for us. For me I'm happy that I can come to New Horizon to get free food so I don’t have to worry about feeding myself, I can have a shower and store my bags and hopefully find some place to stay.
If you want to get in touch or share your thoughts just use the hashtag #NHYC