Housing

Michael Sheen leads launch of Wales’ Youth Homeless Helpline

The out-of-hours freephone number will connect youngsters with volunteers to provide support and advice in their hour of need

A new Youth Homeless Helpline has launched in Wales to give youngsters access to the support and advice that is critical to helping them off the streets.

Hollywood actor and End Youth Homelessness Cymru ambassador Michael Sheen led the launch of the free out-of-hours service today.

The number will be manned by volunteers who will be on-hand to help youngsters who don’t know where to turn when they first end up on the streets, pointing them to available services.

The helpline is the culmination of a two-and-a-half-year campaign to set up the service in Wales and comes at a time when 7,584 16-24 year olds have approached their local authority for help with homelessness. And that is not counting ‘hidden homeless’ youngsters who are staying with friends and relatives.

Young people joined up with youth homelessness charities to lobby the UK government in July 2016 with a 95,000-signature petition.

That laid the groundwork for a public crowdfunding appeal launched the following November which raised enough to support the helpline for a year thanks to donations from 300 members of the public and contributions from Sheen and Nationwide Building Society,

But the £92,320 raised has only secured the helpline’s future for just one year – with calls from Welsh homelessness charity Llamau for further donations and volunteers to keep it going.

Frances Beecher, Llamau chief executive, said: “Homelessness is a hidden epidemic and what is so scary is that 76 per cent of homeless young people have no idea where to turn.

“This helpline is trying to respond to what young people are asking for – a helpline in Wales and to raise understanding of problems young people are facing today.”

The Youth Homeless Helpline can be called free of charge on 0800 328 0292 Monday to Thursday 5pm to 9am and Friday 5pm to Monday 9am

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