A Brighter Future for Joanne and Sam
Around 83,000 young people in the UK are homeless but many more may be in vulnerable accommodation. We want to end youth homelessness and we're tackling the problem locally by providing a home and support to over 100 vulnerable young adults every night. Our work keeps vulnerable young people off the streets and helps prevent the local homelessness problem from growing.
When Joanne moved out of home, she and her boyfriend found themselves with no alternative other than to sofa surf. Although they weren't sleeping on the streets, staying at different houses each night offered them no security or stability and they regularly found themselves surrounded by negative influences, such as drink and drugs.
"It wasn't a nice situation to be in." Joanne explains. "We sofa surfed for about four or five months and it was really difficult."
Joanne and her boyfriend, Sam knew this situation couldn't continue and tried to look for housing options themselves but had no real knowledge of what they needed to do - so they decided to ask for support.
"We wanted to get help from people who knew what they were doing." The pair explains.
After approaching another local charity which supports young people, they were put in touch with The Benjamin Foundation to learn more about the Rent Deposit Scheme. This initiative, in partnership with End Youth Homelessness, helps young people who have faced homelessness and are now ready to live independently to gain access to the private rented sector. It's a service which has been made possible through funding received from Yorkshire Building Society and Joanne and Sam were keen to find out more about how it could help them.
"Initially, we weren't too sure what it was about, but then we learnt that it could help us with a deposit. We met with Michala from The Benjamin Foundation a few times and explained what we were looking for. She helped us with lots of ideas and supported us with looking at different options, including shared housing."
Joanne continues: "We immediately felt a lot better knowing that somebody was here to help us – it was so reassuring."
"Neither of us smoke and trying to find somewhere non-smoking was hard. Finding somewhere suitable when we were on benefits was also difficult."
But with our support they did find somewhere to live which enabled them to get them away from sofa surfing.
"We were so excited when we picked up the keys!" Joanne enthuses.
"Things are so much better now; we have a home that's stable, it's comfortable and we now get a decent night's sleep. We're not in somebody else's house, listening to other people's arguments. It's actually made our relationship better too as we spend better time together."
Having somewhere to live also paved the way for Joanne to find work. Now employed locally in a job she really enjoys, life has taken a positive leap forward.
"Companies weren't inclined to employ me before as I had no proper address." She says. "When we found somewhere to live, it was easier to get a job. It's really good now working at my own pace in a job I enjoy."
"Things are a lot better now! We can make plans. Before, because we never knew where we'd be, we couldn't plan anything." She continues.
Sam adds that our support and guidance has also saved them money. "We didn't know the route to take or the right questions to ask. We could have ended up losing a load of money as a result, but the support has been great – we wouldn't have got where we are without it."
The couple are now in a much safer and happier place and with sofa surfing now a thing of the past they are looking forward to their future together.
Joanne concludes: "We now have the chance to get on with our lives in the way that we want."
*Names have been changed.