Housing

'Homeless people are nothing': Read the online abuse targeting the homeless

The 'Why don't you just go home?' video shows how young homeless people struggle to be taken seriously

Youth homelessness charity Centrepoint has launched a video campaign to fight the stigma faced by young vulnerable people online and in public.

The video highlights real comments posted on social media, with some users saying that “homeless people are nothing”. One person asks, “why don’t you just go home?” (from which the campaign takes its name).

Others accuse teenagers of being “stroppy” and “avoiding parental authority”

Over half of young people supported by Centrepoint have been forced to leave home because of a family relationship breakdown. One in ten left because they were being physically abused. The video concludes: “going home isn’t always an option”.

It was also found that 36 per cent were care leavers while nearly 30 per cent had been sleeping rough. The charity’s figures show that 103,000 young people were homeless or at risk of becoming homeless in 2017-18.

Aidan, a transgender man who had to leave home after his father tried to force him into marrying another man, has been on the receiving end of similar comments from the public.

He said: “If they were in our shoes they would do the exact same and they’d feel exactly the same as we do now reading their comments.

“Homeless young people aren’t nothing, we have emotions and feelings too. Nobody would like being called ‘worthless’ or ‘nothing,’ so why do it to others?”

Centrepoint supports more than 10,000 homeless young people a year directly in London, Manchester, Yorkshire and Sunderland, and through partner charities across the UK.

Paul Noblet, head of public affairs at Centrepoint, said: “Despite what the comments highlighted in our video say, going home simply isn’t an option for the young people who Centrepoint supports.

“As anyone can imagine becoming homeless has a detrimental effect on a person’s confidence and self-worth and the stigma that we see on our social media channels, which many homeless young people have to face in their everyday lives, can leave them feeling even less confident and even more disengaged.

“Thankfully these attitudes represent a minority of the public, and we’re extremely grateful that a majority of the comments we receive are positive.”

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