he spotlight of the cost-of-living crisis typically shines a light on the challenges young families face, but vulnerable young people without families also face the brunt of the crisis, with little support. Youth homelessness charity, Bardsley Youth Project, helps 18 to 25-year-olds who live in unstable accommodation and must deal with homelessness.
The group seeks to empower them to solve their problems through provision of essential welfare items such as food and clothing and access to a furniture bank. In the past year, it has seen the number of young people it supports soar by almost 75 per cent from 83 young people to 142.
Project leader Simon Ree said: “Our young people are going to have to make choices between paying rent and putting food in their bellies. They’re not going to come to us until the bailiffs are at the door. I would predict we’re going to see many young people coming to us over bailiffs and more being taken to court over council tax bills as that’s usually the first bill that’s dropped.”
Comparing the situation now to the pandemic, Mr Ree said the cost-of-living crisis feels like an “unknown”. He said: “Covid was a known entity in the sense that we knew what the problem was so we could fight it and work around it. It was going to come and then it would go. But with the cost-of-living crisis, we don’t know how it’s going to go.”
The charity is one of the organisations that will be eligible for funding as part of our On the Breadline Christmas Appeal in partnership with Comic Relief. Mr Ree said a grant from our initiative would allow the charity to extend its kitchen packs to help young people with essential appliances such as toasters, fridges and kettles.
One of the recipients of this support is Hannah, 22, who described Bardsley Youth Project as a “school for adulting” after she received help finding accommodation having fallen on hard times. “They genuinely care,” she said. “I come to them at my lowest point when I won’t go to anyone else. This place feels like a safehouse. I can be myself. I can just be crying and feel the warmth.”
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Mr Ree said: “I wish I could record the look on a young person’s face when I hand them our kitchen pack. The weight that lifts off their shoulders — they literally grow six inches. Because of the funding we receive from the likes of grants from Comic Relief, we can buy it for them new. It’s a big moment. Some of these young people haven’t had a new thing in their lives.” The message is powerful — that they are worth it.