Boost for city’s homeless after funding award

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A THOUSAND extra young people living on the streets of the Capital will receive help thanks to more than half a ­million pounds of funding for a homelessness charity.

Streetwork UK, based in South Bridge, has been handed £530,037 from the Big ­Lottery Fund for its new Streetyouth project, which is aimed at ­helping young people break the cycle of homelessness.

The number of people ­registered as homeless in Edinburgh fell by 17 per cent in 2012-13, according to city leaders. But charity workers at Streetwork have seen a rise in the number of people coming to them for help as the charity aided 1900 people last year compared to 1300 the year before. Chief executive Claire Gibson said: “We are delighted to have received funding from the Big Lottery Fund for our new Streetyouth project in Edinburgh.

“Streetwork has over 22 years of reaching vulnerable people on the streets – going to where people are and not waiting for them to come to us.

“Streetyouth aims to reach young people by street outreach and use follow up support to prevent later entrenched homelessness.”

Welfare reform, unemployment and the shortage of housing are all contributing to more people at risk on the streets, she said. One 17-year-old – known as Charlie to protect his identity – was helped after leaving home amid drug and alcohol problems.

Ms Gibson said: “To avoid arguments at home he was staying at friends’ and sofa surfing. He told us he was outstaying his welcome with friends and might have to sleep rough.

“Streetwork made sure that Charlie got access to the right people and the right resources so he had a bed for the night and we could work together to start to sort out the underlying problems.”

Since working with the charity, Charlie has found his own place and he has begun to rebuild his family relationship.

He said: “They gave me help in pointing me in the right direction and providing support that I needed. They helped me sort out my flat and debt problems by helping me contact the right people.”

Alison Watson, deputy director of Shelter Scotland, said: “We welcome this announcement by the Big Lottery Fund to help vulnerable young people struggling with homelessness in Edinburgh.

“Projects such as these provide a real lifeline to those who do not receive support and any initiatives which can help young people into safe and secure accommodation is to be welcomed.”