Elise was taken into care when she was just seven years old. When she left care at age 18, she didn’t have anywhere to live so ended up in a hostel. Struggling with independence and feeling unsupported, she was eventually referred to Centrepoint.
Support from keyworkers
“I felt the keyworkers at Centrepoint genuinely cared. I had a designated keyworker who I built up a trusting relationship with.” she says.
Elise’s keyworker supported her in when it came to making key life decisions and beginning to map out her future. “They took an interest – they cared about what I wanted to do, a bit like a parent would,” she recalls.
Support for care leavers
As a care leaver, Elise wonders what might have happened without Centrepoint’s support. “Centrepoint helps a lot of care leavers. It’s an important time of your life, being 18 and trying to make the transition to adulthood. In my opinion, you need help like never before – you have all these bills and it’s your first time being independent. You need support, and Centrepoint provided that support for me and many others.” she says.
Education and working for Centrepoint
After staying with Centrepoint between the ages of 18 and 21, Elise secured a place at university outside of London. She successfully completed her degree, but when she returned to London, she once again had difficulty finding somewhere to live. Luckily she was able to find a place in another Centrepoint hostel and lived there for another two years. “They supported me greatly,” she says. “I’ve recently been housed and Centrepoint supported me all the way through that process.”
Elise is currently studying for a postgraduate degree and Centrepoint has given her a bursary to help with her studies. “They believe in me and want me to follow my dreams. They also offered me a job too. Working here, I get to see the great work they do behind the scenes. As a young person you don’t really appreciate it at the time, but you appreciate it after. They genuinely care about the young people they support,” she says.
Safer from danger
Elise describes the dangers young people face and how easy it is to get involved in the wrong sorts of activities that can ultimately hold you back. “If it hadn’t been for Centrepoint, I would be in with the wrong crowd. I wouldn’t be sitting here talking to you today. They gave me somewhere safe to call home, where I could figure out what I wanted to do. The keyworkers are friendly and it feels like someone is looking out for you. They protect you from a lot of that stuff.”
Misconceptions of youth homelessness
For Elise, tackling the misconceptions surrounding youth homelessness is vital in addressing the problem. “People might think the young person has created the issues themselves; that they’re choosing to be homeless. Actually, the reality is quite different. Family breakdown occurs for all different reasons: drugs, new partners, religious differences, issues surrounding sexuality – it is so complex. Centrepoint is like a safe haven for those young people. It helps young people to learn to become independent and choose their own pathway.”
Mental health support
Elise thinks that an important part of Centrepoint’s work now is supporting young people with their mental health. “It’s so hard to get mental health support these days. If a young person is suffering with their mental health, Centrepoint are able to offer them a counsellor,” she explains. “Centrepoint are really holistic in their support of young people. It’s so important that they’re not just about providing housing, because there are always so many other issues that a young person might be dealing with.”
In Elise’s opinion, one of the many important things that Centrepoint does is teach young people about healthy relationships. “So many young people can end up in a negative relationship. We don’t always see the relationship as unhealthy, maybe due to upbringing or not having healthy relationships modelled to us. It’s so important when becoming independent to learn about what constitutes a healthy relationship,” she says.
“It’s great to see other young people benefitting as I did. They have some great relationships, not just with the housing and support stuff, but other departments too. The young people here get to speak to a range of people and that can be really beneficial.”