Roundabout launches major winter fundraising campaign

5th October 2020

Roundabout, South Yorkshire's youth homeless charity, is launching a major new fundraising campaign - By Their Side - to ensure it will be there keeping young people safe and off the streets.

WHAT does it take to make a young person take to a life of cold, neglect and danger on the streets of a strange city?

Ask Amy and she will say that she never knew how quickly her life could change and how she could go from living with her family to surviving alone in a shop doorway.

She is typical of the increasing number of young people being supported by South Yorkshire youth homelessness charity Roundabout, which is just launching a major new fundraising campaign - By Their Side - to ensure it will be there keeping young people off the streets as quickly and safely as possible as winter approaches.

Amy was just 17 when, as she struggled with her own anger issues, she left her home following a series of increasingly noisy arguments with her parents and siblings.

She headed to Sheffield because she believed she at least had family there but the reality was that she was on her own - and on the streets.

“I had nowhere to go and I ended up in a doorway in the middle of town,” she recalls.

“It was horrible - cold all the time and frightening too but it was at least one of the cleanest doors because it was cleared up every day by the owners so I’d come back as soon as the shops shut and settle in again for another night because that’s all you can do, just put your head down and get on with it.

“I was out shoplifting every day because I didn’t have any money and I had to live.

“But the worse thing was the way people looked at you as they passed you and they’d make comments too, say really nasty things - you don’t feel you are anyone any more.”

Things appeared to be improving when she was approached by a woman who said she had been homeless herself and knew of a squat where Amy could stay.

“At least I was inside and there was a bed for me and curtains but there were drugs too and I did do some of that until I forced myself to stop, just stayed in bed until it was out of my system, which was hard but I knew I had to do it.” Amy says.

“The life I had wasn’t a life to be living but it was the only life I had and there didn’t seem to be any way out.

“I’d got to the stage when I knew I wanted to have a normal life and then I was told that Roundabout was for people my age and that they could help me so I went to them and they’ve been more supportive than my family ever were.

“In fact, I’d probably still be in that squat if it hadn’t been for Roundabout because they’ve helped me with things like arranging benefits and getting a GP, which has really helped with my mental health issues.

“And the best thing is that I’m getting the key to my own flat, somewhere that will be all mine.”

Amy has been supported on this journey by Roundabout’s Rapid Rehousing team, which is made up of dedicated workers who actively go out into the community, identify homeless young people who need intensive support and help them to access accommodation and develop their long term living skills, until they are confident to take that next step to live independently.

“Everybody at Roundabout has been so supportive, they help you and understand you and work with you,” says Amy, as she looks back on a dark period of her life which, she agrees, could very easily have ended in tragedy.

“I’m not as angry as I used to be and I feel now there is something to look forward to,” she says.

But perhaps the most important thing is that Amy is now allowing herself to think more positively about the future, using her new-found stability as the foundation for a new life.

“I’d like to be a mental health worker, use what I know from my own life to do some good - and that really does seem possible now.”

To find out more about By Their Side campaign, visit the Roundabout website: https://www.roundabouthomeless.org/support-us/by-their-side-campaign/

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