Today is Fuel Poverty Awareness Day 2023, but we would like you to cast your mind back to Autumn 2022. We can all remember being concerned about the economic situation of the UK: inflation and the dramatic increase in energy bills and rent . But for young people affected by homelessness, this worry was even more acute – would I be able to keep my flat if the rent rises? Will I be able to afford warm clothes and heating to get me through winter? Will I be forced back into homelessness??
So on 1st October 2022, the Young Londoner’s Winter Relief Fund was created, with the aim of keeping young people at risk of homelessness housed and in employment or education. It offered one-off, non-repayable grants of up to £300 to young people to support them with: gas, electric, or water bills, housing service charges, rent costs, council tax, phone or internet credit and bills, travel cards, or clothes.
Young people could apply for the grant with help of support workers at the London Youth Gateway partnership: New Horizon Youth Centre, akt, Galop, Shelter and Depaul UK. The scheme’s administrative support came from Greater Change and funding was initially donated by Landaid, The Progress Foundation, Berkeley Foundation and New Horizon Youth Centre.
“The fact that I was able to get a grant to help pay my bills helped me immensely. It helped me avoid risking eviction. It helped me stay afloat.” Sophie
126 young people received grants, with an average of £259 each. In total, £32,575 was spent. Most of the grants were for a combination of basic items: travel, clothing, utilities, phone bills and rent costs.
The grants were enough to enable 126 young people to not just survive, but to thrive over winter – able to keep their jobs, stay in college, purchase gender affirming clothing and reduce their debts.
One of the successes of the fund was that it was able to be accessed easily, quickly and without needless paperwork, which meant it could respond to young people’s needs in real time. Further, support workers were able to help young people budget and learn money management skills. It also helped young people stay in touch with their support workers and their personal networks, which is vital for young people to be able to thrive.
“I’m so lucky having organisations that really care about me, their support has saved my life.” Billy.
Hear from Sophie, one of the young people who has benefited from the scheme:
Sophie: “The cost-of-living grant helped me immensely whilst I was in college. Because I was a college student and not a university student, I was not entitled to any student loans to help me survive while I studied. On top of this, I was having issues with my Universal Credit. This meant that the only thing I could rely on to survive was the money I was earning from my part time jobs (and I already couldn’t work much anyway because of the time I was spending studying). So, the fact that I was able to get a grant to help pay my bills helped me immensely. It helped me avoid racking up rent arrears and risking eviction. It helped me stay afloat.”
Due to the success of the 2022-2023 Young Londoner’s Winter Relief Fund we are bringing the scheme back for this winter, to continue to support young Londoners to reach their potential and thrive in the city.
If you would like to find out more about the fund, or be involved in ensuring it happens for young Londoners again this year, please email [email protected].