We want to end youth homelessness. Our work keeps vulnerable young adults off the streets and helps prevent the local homelessness problem from growing. We deliver the Rent Deposit Scheme, funded by Yorkshire Building Society and in partnership with End Youth Homelessness, to help local young people, who have faced homelessness and are ready to live independently to gain access to the private rented sector.
Circumstances in the family home had been difficult for many years before Elliott* and his girlfriend found themselves facing homelessness through no fault of their own. Witnessing a cycle of domestic violence, and drug and alcohol abuse had severely damaged family relationships and eventually resulted in eviction. The family split and, aged just 17 and still in education, Elliott felt he had no support and nowhere to turn.
In desperation, he and his girlfriend hastily found somewhere else to live but quickly realised it wasn’t working out. They were paying so much in food and rent, Elliott was still attending college and wasn’t working, so the pair ended up ‘sofa surfing’ – sleeping in the homes of friends – for around seven months.
“It was horrible. We were constantly worrying about where we could stay next.” Elliott explains.
“I had no income as it was hard to find a job to fit around my college commitments and family members couldn’t help. Although life at home had been really difficult, at least we’d had a roof over our heads which provided us with stability. Then we lost that stability and had no help from anyone.”
He continues: “The worst thing was that none of this was our fault. We didn’t think things could get much worse – but they did.”
With the goodwill of friends running out, sleeping on the streets was a real possibility. They were running out of options when a local charity put Elliott and his girlfriend in touch with The Benjamin Foundation. It was here they learnt about the Rent Deposit Scheme and how it could help them to turn things around.
The provision of a guarantee bond instead of a traditional rent deposit immediately overcame a huge barrier to securing somewhere safe and stable to live. Additionally, there was a grant available so they could buy some home essentials, and there was plenty of support to guide them along the way. Elliott hadn’t previously been aware of the Rent Deposit Scheme but immediately he knew it was something that could give them a big lift.
“We went through so much; things had been horrible, so finally having this support gave us such a good feeling! We had constantly been turned away from people who couldn’t help us – then to meet somebody who helped us within the first meeting was amazing.”
The scheme enabled the pair to move into their own place and they are delighted that life has finally taken a positive turn.
“I don’t know where we’d be without the Rent Deposit Scheme – most likely we’d be homeless as the day we moved into our own place was the same day that we had to leave a friend’s house. We had nowhere else to stay lined up.”
The relief in Elliott is clear to see. After struggling with depression and anxiety, having stability back in his life is already having a positive impact on him.
“I’m much better.” He says. “Things feel so much better. Of course we still have worries but nowhere near as many. Our levels of happiness have increased so much. It was the step up we needed.”
The couple are looking forward to settling into their new home and using the grant to purchase essentials to make it their own.
Elliott believes it would have been easy for him to become involved with alcohol and drugs as that’s what he previously had been exposed to, but he is determined to stay on a different path. He is now working and is optimistic about what lies ahead.
“This is me making something of myself. This is the start of our future.” He says.
If you are a young person aged 18-25 and would like to find out more about how the Rent Deposit Scheme can help you please contact Michala Howarth 07976 851202 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
The Benjamin Foundation impacts the lives of so many people – it’s an amazing charity and a huge inspiration.