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Roundabout: Breaking the cycle of youth homelessness

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Roundabout is Sheffield's local youth housing charity and they do incredibly important work in providing shelter, support and life skills to young people. We chatted to Roundabout CEO Ben Keegan to find out more about their work.

What did Roundabout do during 2019 and what impact has your work had?

Roundabout's overall aim is that no young person under 25 should have to experience sleeping rough and we are committed to making sure that this doesn't happen. Whilst our Homeless Prevention Service is there for anyone who needs support and advice, in 2018 we found that not all vulnerable young people were coming to our drop-in to seek help.

Sadly, we began to see rough sleepers in Sheffield who were aged under 25. These young people immediately became our priority, leading to us developing a new street outreach team called Rapid Rehousing. We now have 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.

What are you most proud of?

We are so proud of the way we strive to support every homeless young person who needs us. We adapt services and are flexible to change, allowing us to be there for vulnerable young people and help as many of them as possible gain independence and have a safe place to call home. We're proud that through our prevention work and our new Rapid Rehousing service, we're making sure that no young person should experience sleeping rough.

Mediation helps the whole family

We're also proud of being able to keep families together when they're going through a difficult time and need a bit of help. The reason that most young people become homeless is due to relationship breakdown at home, so through our mediation services, we've helped young people and their families understand one another and rebuild relationships. Mediation helps the whole family, not just the young person. Last year, 85 siblings benefitted from our mediation services and 46% of these were under 16.

More importantly though, we're proud of the incredible young people that we support. Many of them go on to achieve great things, after having a bit of support from us in a difficult time in their lives. Our fantastic Peer Educators are young people who have experienced homelessness and now volunteer for Roundabout, going into schools and holding lessons on homeless education. Last year, 6 Peer Educators gained employment and one went to university to study Law.

What are your challenges for 2020 and how could your work in Sheffield be better supported?

There is a constant need to support young people who are homeless or at risk of being homeless in South Yorkshire and Roundabout want to be there for every young person who needs us. We're working with more young people on a daily basis than ever before, and the demand on our services is increasing. Last year, we sadly began to see young people sleeping rough in Sheffield. In my 13 years at Roundabout, I'd never seen this before.

So far, we've managed to house every young person we have found on our streets

We developed a new street outreach team called Rapid Rehousing, which we were able to do thanks to people's fundraising and generous donations. Our dedicated workers go into the community and identify homeless young people who need intensive support. So far, we've managed to house every young person we have found on our streets through our Homeless Prevention and Rapid Rehousing work, but the challenge is becoming harder and harder. We have a constant stream of new young people with tremendously harrowing stories of childhoods who need our support. We are growing increasingly concerned about the increase in young people sleeping rough and are apprehensive to see how the government will combat homelessness in the future.

This year, we'll be looking for opportunities where we can be charity of the year, one-off support, people to take part in our events and people to fundraise. Regular Giving is fantastic as knowing we have guaranteed income allows us to plan ahead. It was thanks to generous donations and fundraising that we were able to launch our Rapid Rehousing service, which is already making such a difference to the lives of Sheffield's most vulnerable young people. By supporting Roundabout, people will be helping us to sustain current services and allow us to fulfil our commitment that no young person in the Sheffield City Region should have to experience homelessness.

Find out more about Roundabout here.

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