A great step forward

Shelagh O’Connor, CEO of the homeless charity New Horizon Youth Centre, talks about the struggle to find suitable accommodation for young people who come to it for help….

Ten years ago we had access to a range of hostels, shelters, and private rented accommodation. Nowadays we have one hostel that we rely on to prevent a young vulnerable person sleeping on the street. This does not respond in any way to the numbers of homeless young people we see.

To make matters worse, these days, most of our clients cannot meet the increasingly high thresholds set to gain a space in a Local Authority hostel, despite the fact that many of these clients remain incredibly vulnerable and often ending up sleeping on buses, in derelict buildings, on the streets and even in tents in parks.

The situation is getting worse.

For this reason, we are incredibly proud to announce the launch of a new architectural competition to provide a brand new housing facility for up to 40 homeless young people in London.

Specifically created in response to the crisis of hidden youth homelessness, the new building will be run by NHYC and will provide short to medium stay accommodation for those in immediate housing need.

So, why us? NHYC is a leading provider of services to homeless young people in London and we are constantly looking for ways to improve the situation. Founded by Lord Longford 50 years ago, to address the needs of vulnerable and homeless young people that he saw in the West End, the centre is now based in Kings Cross with outreach and day care provision that reaches across London. The young-person centred nature of our organisation sets us apart from others, and the positive outcomes we have achieved clearly reflect the success of our particular model of working.

The centre provides open access to drop-in services, including accommodation advice and referrals, accredited education and training programmes, counselling, and music production workshops. One-to-one support is tailored-to-need and provided alongside group work to meet young people’s needs. Life skills workers deliver a wide range of taster sessions and other activities for young people. Transitional workers provide outreach and pre-release support as well as one-to-one and group work with some young people: most notably young women at risk and young men in gangs.

We now lead the Youth Homelessness Commission for London funded by London Councils, supporting over 6,500 young people across each of the 33 boroughs per year. This is achieved in partnership with Depaul UK, Shelter, Stonewall Housing, Albert Kennedy Trust and Galop.

In addition to ourselves, the architectural competition is supported by McAslan & Partners, the Mayor of London and is sponsored by Capel C S Limited, our Patron Jon Snow and Colander Associates Ltd.

To find out more about NHYC visit our website.

To find out more about the competition, visit the competition webpage