A lifeline for young people living rough

Grace Hutton, nine, from Cosham, is having her head shaved in memory of her mum Paula (in the picture frame)

Cosham girl, nine, to have headshave in mum’s memory

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NOT knowing when you will eat your next meal or where you will shelter from the rain is a daunting prospect.

And it’s particularly harrowing when you are only 17 and have just left school.

From left, Step by Step staff members Teresa Ortega and Anni Bury with Lucy Howard, Kirsty Creed and Lauren Miller.'Pictures: Ian Hargreaves  (150834-1)

From left, Step by Step staff members Teresa Ortega and Anni Bury with Lucy Howard, Kirsty Creed and Lauren Miller.'Pictures: Ian Hargreaves (150834-1)

But this is the grim reality in parts of Havant, Fareham and Gosport as young people are living rough on the streets.

Luckily, charities like Step by Step provide accommodation to young people and help get their lives back on track.

Yesterday was an open day at one of the charity’s centres, Krystal House in Middle Park Way, Leigh Park.

The Hampshire-based charity, which accommodates around 200 people between 11 and 25 every night, has just retained its contract as part of the re-tendering process for social services by Hampshire County Council.

Lucy Howard, 18, from Leigh Park, said the charity was a lifeline.

She lived in a tent for a year in Leigh Park Gardens – an experience she described as ‘scary’. ‘They helped me out,’ she said.

‘It was horrible. I was robbing, trying to get a bit of money so I could have something to eat.

‘Now I don’t have to do any of that. My ambition is to get my own flat. I would like to be an art teacher.’

Kirsty Creed, 19, from Havant, was also homeless when the charity came to her rescue.

‘I lost my two kids and I nearly died from an overdose in January,’ she said. ‘Since then they have really helped me and got my life back on track.

‘I am looking for a job and get back into college. Hopefully I will be able to be a mum again.’

Lauren Miller, 19, from Havant, is living in Brent House, which is a step up from Krystal House and gives clients more independence.

‘They get me motivated,’ she said.

Anni Bury, Havant and Gosport foyer manager, said homelessness among young people was on the up, partly due to more family breakdowns and money struggles brought on by policies such as the bedroom tax.

The charity’s aim was to get people into employment and education.

‘We have waiting lists,’ she said. ‘We have got referrals coming in left, right and centre.’