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Reasons to be cheerful

July 01 2019
Pilion Trust users: Marie, Brandon and Mahlechi. Marie’s tip for passing time safely is to “Look for a service that will help you in the day. Some churches offer help with food.”  © Pavement Pilion Trust users: Marie, Brandon and Mahlechi. Marie’s tip for passing time safely is to “Look for a service that will help you in the day. Some churches offer help with food.” © Pavement

Where do you go when you are suddenly homeless? At writing workshops run by the Pavement we asked young people at New Horizon day centre in King’s Cross and the Pilion Trust in Islington, which runs the Crashpad youth shelter, to share ideas about how to pass time safely until life gets better again.

Where do you go when you are suddenly homeless? At writing workshops run by the Pavement we asked young people at New Horizon day centre in King’s Cross and the Pilion Trust in Islington, which runs the Crashpad youth shelter, to share ideas about how to pass time safely until life gets better again.


Helena Sparks, 23
Dream job: Working in film
How come you’re homeless? Kicked out
Any safety tips:
Stay near where it’s busy – near the stations. Or go to New Horizon in King’s Cross.
How has it been? I’m a student and my university didn’t understand, they wanted to give me accommodation I couldn’t afford. I needed a laptop to do my work and didn’t have it. It was also hard for me to sleep – I didn’t like people watching me.
How to fill long days? Museums (try the Wellcome Collection, 183 Euston Road, NW1), volunteering.
Read Helena's poem on p30


Ibrahim, 23

Dream job: Any job
How come you’re homeless? Asylum seeker, then evicted
How has it been? It’s hard to sleep and eat well.
How to fill long days: I like football, but you can’t play football if there aren’t showers.


Abel, 19

Dream job: Business man
How come you’re homeless? Asylum seeker
How has it been? Hard. I can’t find a job. I don’t have a bank account
How to fill long days? London is busier, nosier and smellier than my city. But I like London and like to go to the park and relax.


HY, 23

Dream job: Travel and tourism
How come you’re homeless? Family problems
How has it been? It’s hard. You can’t find a job since most jobs require a solid address, and it’s really hard managing a job when you can’t shower every morning.
Any tips: Don’t make friends with the wrong people. Seek professional help at youth centres and shelters
How to fill long days: Parks, British Library, volunteer in a charity shop or with a group like Prince’s Trust, try spray painting, do Open Mic and spoken word events.


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Most hostels and night shelters have strict opening times. You might need to check-in at 7pm and leave before 9am every day, even if you’re not feeling well. They also admit all ages, which can be tough for young people. An exception is Crashpad (open November–May) which is a unique youth shelter for 18–25-year-olds in London. Young people using it include those leaving care or needing a safe place to sleep because of family breakdown, pregnancy, relationship breakdowns, rough sleeping or because they are runaways. This summer the Pavement met Crashpad fans, Brandon and Mahlechi…

Brandon designs his own clothing line: “Crashpad saved me when I had a fractured shoulder in December 2016 and needed a roof. I was always missing breakfast at another hostel because all the old people get up early and they’d have taken all the sandwiches! One night shelter in King’s Cross shut at 8am but the libraries and other day centres didn’t open until 9am. When it was cold and you couldn’t hang around outside you’d have 20 people from the same shelter rammed up in McDonald's with all the commuters. I’d go to the library and read the newspaper just waiting for 10.30am when New Horizon opened.

Mahlechi is writing a book about black Britons: “I liked to do the cooking when I was at Crashpad. I knew about it because I was from that area of north London. I’d recommend you stay in the library until closing hours. If it’s later, hang around in hospitals or casinos.”


LONDON

  • New Horizon Youth Centre, 68 Chalton Street, NW1 1JR is open seven days a week from 10.30am to 4pm. www.nhyouthcentre.org.uk tel: 020 7388 5560.
  • You need to be referred to use Crashpad’s youth shelter. Or refer yourself by going to the Pilion Trust at Ringcross Community Centre, 60 Lough Road, N7 8FE. Open Monday-Friday 10am-5.30pm. http://piliontrust.info
  • So many people started staying overnight in Japan’s 24-hour McDonald’s that they began to be called McRefugees. But McDonald’s have many pluses including free wifi, free phone charging points and toilets (but you know that!).

GLASGOW

  • Doors open from 9am at Glasgow’s Crossroads Youth & Community Association, with youth workers starting at 12 noon. It shuts around 7pm.

Manager Joe McConall says: “People tell us they catch up with friends in Crown Street when we’re not open. Also, Gorbals Library has computers and is meant to be a community space.”

Address:
Crossroads, Barn Youth Centre, 37 Abbotsford Place, Glasgow G5 9QS. www.cyca.org.uk

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