Centrepoint helps more than 14,000 homeless young people every year. With our support, they've overcome monumental obstacles and achieved amazing things.
Here are some of the real stories of Centrepoint young people and staff.
Adam* was subjected to sexual, physical and emotional abuse growing up. Ten years after his dad went to prison, his mum suddenly threw him out.
Forced to live in his car, Adam was unable to keep up his job and dropped out of university, which left him feeling so desperate he attempted suicide.
Centrepoint found Adam a home, a GP, where he received a diagnosis for depression, and a psychiatrist, enabling him to talk about his trauma for the first time in his life. Adam now lives in shared accommodation, is back at work and planning to return to university to complete his studies.
Alex has worked as a supported housing officer in Sunderland since April 2018. Prior to that, she was a prevention worker as part of a pilot project and also had responsibility for the youth educators programme. This was aimed at raising awareness and tackling misconceptions surrounding homelessness. Before she worked at Centrepoint, she worked in further education for 20 years.
Here she shares her wealth of experience in working closely with vulnerable, young adults.
Ali, 18, came to the UK as an unaccompanied minor. He was fleeing persecution for both his religion and his sexuality. Originally from Iran, Ali had lived in the Republic of Georgia where he converted to the Baha’i Faith which was forbidden in Iran. Once in the UK, he also came out as gay and is currently seeking asylum on the basis of his sexuality. He is currently studying A-level sciences and hopes to eventually go to university to study in the field of neuroscience.
On Christmas Day, Ben went to hospital with chronic pain and was diagnosed with sciatica. To make matters worse, a relative visited him and told him he couldn’t go home.
Now Ben has moved on and is in the process of setting up his own business.
Cameron, 19, was referred to Centrepoint following a family breakdown. He sofa surfed for a year before social services placed him in the care of a relative. This turned out to be an inappropriate placement for Cameron and he made contact with social services who placed him in a Centrepoint hostel. After a year, Centrepoint have supported Cameron into his own flat and he has now started a degree at university. He eventually wants to go into teaching.
Carol Cordingley is the deputy service manager at one of Centrepoint’s therapeutic services near Bradford and has been with the organisation for four and a half years. Here, she works with Patrick Hollinger, a supported housing officer who has been at the service since its fruition over five years ago.
In this interview, they share their combined 32-year experience of working with young people.
After a relationship breakdown with her mum, Cassie sofa surfed before approaching her local council and requesting a referral to Centrepoint.
Centrepoint staff have supported Cassie with her mental health, university application and her move on into independence. She has just begun a degree in Fine Art and has moved into her own flat.
Christian, 23, was recently nominated for – and won – the Centrepoint Partners Inspiration Award. Ria, a support worker who worked for Broxtowe Youth Homelessness, nominated Christian because, despite extremely difficult experiences, she says Christian was able to turn his life around and through volunteering, inspired not only the young people they support, but the staff too.
Darren became a Centrepoint resident aged 19 back in 2005 following a communication breakdown with his family. After leaving Centrepoint, he worked for a number of year as a youth worker. He has since written a book called Power of 21 to help young people break into creative industries. He has recently become a Centrepoint trustee.
Dineer* is 20 years old and became a Centrepoint resident in January. During lockdown, she became a keyworker herself, working as a chef at a major hospital in South West London. Here she talks about her experiences during the pandemic and her hopes to start her own business in the future.
Dolores Hamilton has been with Centrepoint for four years, but has worked with young people for a lot longer. She is a floating support worker and works specifically with care leavers between 16-18 years old. Here she tells us about her role and working with young people.
When Ebby became pregnant at 17, she was unable to continue living with her mum. She sofa-surfed with extended family members until eventually she was referred to a hostel for young parents. She describes her relationship with her keyworker as instrumental in her turning things around.
Ebby has recently moved into her own flat with her son and has enrolled on a social work course at college.
Elly-Michele has been a Centrepoint resident for two years since leaving care. She recently took part in the first of the Centrepoint arts engagement projects - STUDIO, and had her work exhibited at the Saatchi Gallery. This has given her a creative platform and the confidence to continue developing her artistic talents.
Emilyn was a Centrepoint resident in 2006 after her mental health deteriorated. Whilst living with Centrepoint, she received support from her keyworker and the learning team, which eventually lead her to university. Emilyn now works for the UK's leading charity for social integration.
Gareth found himself homeless after finishing University. With Centrepoint's Support, Gareth is now in his own place and recently won a Centrepoint Award. He has a full time job with the DofE and hopes to one day become a PE Teacher.
By the age of 17, Jade had experienced a suicide in her family and also lost her mum. Barely coping with life, she spent time in and out of hospital due to alcohol and substance use, which further impacted her already fragile mental health.
With courage and determination and the support of Stepping Stone Projects in Lancashire (one of Centrepoint’s partner organisations), Jade went to university, achieving a first class degree. Since graduating, Jade has supported other vulnerable young people as a homelessness officer and a substance use worker. Jade lives with her son and partner and baby daughter.
Jasmin is a Rohingya refugee and spent much of her childhood in a refugee camp in Bangladesh before being granted asylum in the UK.
She has overcome so many barriers in her life, but sport was always something that made her feel good. Last year through Centrepoint, she took part in the Street Child Cricket World Cup, and since then has been named one of the BBC's 100 Women of 2019.
Jen* became homeless at 16 following a relationship breakdown with her mum. For two weeks in the dead of winter, Jen sofa-surfed or wandered the streets desperately trying to find somewhere to keep warm.
Eventually, Jen was referred to Centrepoint’s therapeutic service for 16-18 year olds in a farmhouse outside Bradford. While initially reluctant to accept help, one year later she’s thriving and looking forward to going back to college.
John had a troubled and unstable childhood. His father suffered with mental illness and his mother was abusive - his earliest memory is of her kicking him in the stomach. He was regularly sleeping rough at just 15 years old.
Since coming to Centrepoint, he's been able to work through those issues with the support of our counsellors. Having a safe room has meant he can focus again and even get back into education.
Jordan, 24, has struggled with homelessness for the past three years, and spent eight months on the streets in 2019. Centrepoint have provided Jordan with a support worker, drug counsellor and mental health worker as well as offering him the opportunity to get involved with arts and drama programmes, which he says have made a huge impact on his life. Jordan has recently been nominated for the Centrepoint Rising Star Award.
Kerry came to Centrepoint in the 1970s after running away from home and ending up homeless on the streets of London. She was just 14 years old.
Forty years later, Kerry sponsors a room at Centrepoint to help other homeless young people.
Here is her story.
Lewis 19, lives at a Centrepoint hostel in Central London where he has been since he left care at 18. He is studying game design and recently won a House of Vans competition with Centrepoint to design a skateboard.
Lisa sought help from Centrepoint’s night shelter when she experienced a period of homelessness after leaving care in the 1980s. The help that Lisa received from Centrepoint and other organisations helped change her story. Today, Lisa works with agencies and organisations working with children and families around trauma and resilience.
Volunteers are the lifeblood of Centrepoint and have been from our early beginnings. Their time, knowledge and kindness are vital to the important work we do supporting young people.
One of our volunteers, Liz, has been working with Angeline for three years and has supported her through some difficult transitions.
Here is their story.
Lola grew up in care from the age of four. During her teenage years, she became immersed in gang culture. After a number of abusive relationships, Lola ended up escaping her area and was referred to Centrepoint, enrolling on a number of courses and programmes provided by the organisation. She's now very close to completing her hospitality traineeship with a major media company.
Mari was a Centrepoint resident in 1997, after being thrown out of home as a teen when the relationship with her mother broke down. Not only did Centrepoint provide Mari with a roof over her head, they also provided a support network that she relied on for many years after.
Maureen started working for Centrepoint in November 2003 as a Resettlement Officer and is now the Service Manager at one of our services in Camden. To mark our 50th anniversary, she reflects on working for Centrepoint and the changes over the years.
Michelle has worked for Centrepoint for almost three years and currently works as a supported housing officer in our young parent’s service in Sunderland.
Before Centrepoint, Michelle worked with adults with disabilities and learning difficulties. She says it was the care an ex-partner was given that inspired her to go into support work.
Here Michelle tells us about why she enjoys working with young people.
Following a family break up and subsequent mental ill-health, Morgan, 22, dropped out of university and ended up homeless. After a period of sofa-surfing and rough sleeping, Morgan was referred to Night Stop and later Centrepoint where he started on his road to recovery. He now volunteers as a youth advocate within Centrepoint.
At just 17, Nadia was forced to flee Ethiopia because of persecution for her political beliefs. After some years in Newcastle, where she felt alone and isolated, she made her way to London. She spent three months homeless in the capital before she was finally referred to Centrepoint.
Peter first came to Centrepoint in the early 1970s after leaving the army with a medical discharge at just 16-years-old. Feeling neglected by his family, he felt he had no choice but to leave home. He spent the next 25 years homeless.
Here is his story.
Ramona suffered with her mental health as a child and was sectioned when she was just 11. Her condition wasn’t diagnosed until much later, but since receiving a formal diagnosis and escaping an abusive relationship, she has been able to take control of her life and is excelling at her studies. She is now having regular therapy and appropriate medication for her condition and looking forwards to studying Biological Science at university.
At just 17, Shannon was referred to Centrepoint when her foster placement broke down. Whilst with Centrepoint, Shannon was supported to finish college, complete an apprenticeship and apply to university. She has recently moved into her own flat and is about to start her degree in fashion design.
When the relationship with her carer broke down, social services referred Sofia to Centrepoint. She was a resident in a Centrepoint service for young parents, working and studying to be a Montessori teacher with the help of Centrepoint’s bursary scheme. She recently won the Centrepoint Personal Development Award and has moved into her own flat with her son.
Stephen understands what it’s like to be young and homeless: he lived in a hostel for three years from the age of 17. He now works as a supported housing officer in one of our Barnsley services. He’s been working at Centrepoint since October 2018.
Steve had a comfortable middle class background, but his home life was turbulent. At the age of 18 he was made homeless and travelled to London where he sofa surfed with a friend before he eventually sought help from Centrepoint. We were able to provide him with emergency accommodation at the night shelter and later, a studio flat where he was able to develop his independence.
Today, Steve works in housing and is one of our room sponsors.
Tam is a former Centrepoint service user. Her story of homelessness began when her family discovered her sexuality. After coming out as a member of the LGBTQ+ community, some family members became uncomfortable, and eventually asked her to leave home.
Tam received support from Centrepoint in Manchester and benefited greatly from Centrepoint's sports programmes.
Tasha came to Centrepoint through social services when her foster placement broke down at age 16.
With the support of her key worker Carol, she began to thrive. She took up an apprenticeship with a national bank in which she excelled.
Tasha recently turned 18, moved into her own flat and is working full time. She recently won a Centrepoint Award in recognition of all her hard work.
Terence started as a volunteer at Centrepoint in November 1993. He spent a number of years working in services and twenty-five years later he is still here, working as a Rota and Purchasing Officer in the housing department. Here, he shares his reflections from three decades of working for Centrepoint.
Zahra came to the UK earlier this year just before lockdown to join her husband following an arranged marriage. She was 19 years old at the time. When things took an unexpected turn following her arrival, Zahra was referred to Centrepoint and has been with the organisation since August and is beginning to rebuild her life.
Ziggy had a difficult journey before he came to Centrepoint - homelessness, drugs and crime. He embarked on a roller coaster ride of sleeping in unsafe places like bus shelters and falling in with a bad crowd, which led to run-ins with the police.
Seven years since leaving Centrepoint, Ziggy, now 29, got in touch with us wanting to share his story in his own words. Here it is.