In our monthly employee lottery, a member of the Affinity for Business (AfB) team is picked at random to win £250. It’s a great way for us to reward our team for their hard work and also contribute to charities, as we match the £250 prize money and donate £250 to a chosen charity. Each month team members will suggest charities they feel passionate about. These charities will then be put into an anonymous poll where the team can vote for a charity to donate to. AfB then match the £250 prize money, donating it to the chosen charity of the month.
This month’s chosen charity is Herts Young Homeless (HYH), a cause that is close to our hearts. So, we thought we would raise awareness by kindly asking Alison Wildey from HYH to discuss the young homeless people of Hertfordshire, in the hope that the answers could inform the local community of what they can do to help.
Can you tell us about Herts Young Homeless and how the charity came about?
Herts Young Homeless was set up in 1998 (we’re celebrating our 21st birthday next year!) because there were very few services to help young people who were facing housing difficulties. Initially, with just one member of staff, we have grown to have over 50 staff and around the same number of volunteers.
Our focus is on preventing homelessness. We empower young people to be able to deal with difficult situations in their lives, give them the ability and confidence to ‘do it themselves’ and ultimately find stability.
What services can you provide for young homeless people?
The first point of contact for young people is usually with The Homeless Hub, offering advice and information for ages 16 to 24 who are at risk of homelessness. There are also other services including these facilities that you can use depending on your age and circumstances:
- Mediation, for families in conflict
- Nightstop Herts, emergency accommodation in an approved volunteer’s home, for young people aged 18 to 24
- Floating Support, for care leavers and vulnerable young people struggling to live independently
- Health, for those struggling with their mental health, substance misuse or have housing issues
How can donations to HYH make a difference to young people’s lives?
Aside from funding vital services, such as Nightstop Herts e can buy fresh fruit and vegetables for a young person who may be reliant on food parcels, or fund kitchen equipment for someone moving into their own accommodation for the first time. Your donations can also supply travel warrants for our service users to get to important appointments or even just so they can keep attending school.
In our AfB company lottery we donated £250 towards HYH, what can this size donation do for a young person in need?
Thank you so much for the donation. It’s a fantastic amount of money which can provide a lot of support for a young person.
It costs us £25 to put a young person in our emergency accommodation service Nightstop Herts, so £250 could provide 10 nights in a safe place for someone who would otherwise be sleeping rough.
We can purchase supermarket vouchers, useful kitchen equipment or even smart clothes for a job/college interview. It can also help to buy ‘starter packs’ of basic household items for young people moving into their own accommodation for the first time.
Do you organise any local fundraising events that people can go to for support and donate?
Yes, our annual Golf Day is coming up on September 27th 2018 at Harpenden Common Golf Club, which is great fun. Many teams come back year after year, so we must be getting something right!
We are also holding a Sponsored Sleepout at Oaklands College in Smallford on December 7th 2018. It’s a fantastic team-building exercise, providing insight into the challenges faced by homeless young people.
There are lots of fun events going on throughout the year which can be found on our fundraising calendar on our website. You can also get involved by hosting your own fundraising event too, we love it when local businesses and community groups get together. For inspiration on organising your own fundraising event, you can take a look at our A to Z of Fundraising Ideas.
What is the best advice to give to a young person faced with homelessness or who is homeless?
It’s important to find somewhere safe and secure to stay temporarily, with a friend or another family member. They can start by contacting organisations like HYH, their local council’s housing department, or charities such as Shelter for advice and support. They can also take a look at the useful links on our site.