According to a recent survey by the Consortium for Street Children (CSC), over two thirds (68%) of Brits underestimate the number of young people living on UK streets.
The research suggested that the concept of street children is one that still tends to be associated with Africa and Asia in the minds of British people, with 80% of Brits apparently unaware that an estimated 100,000 children become homeless on the streets of the UK every year. One particularly worrying figure: fewer than one in 10 British people stated that they feel compelled to help children sleeping rough on the streets.
A lack of funding for homeless young people is seen as one of the main problems facing projects that aim to help street children.
The Recycling Lives social welfare charity, while not working with street children directly, offers accommodation and support to people aged 18 and over who find themselves in difficulty. Tellingly, the majority of Residents tend to be young men in their late teens and early twenties who have struggled to adjust to independent life following difficult childhoods involving homelessness, foster homes and, often, crime. Having struggled for so many years to adapt to a life without support, stability or security, these young people often have few – or no – qualifications and a mistrust of institutions and authority figures. A common theme that crops up in Recycling Lives Residents’ introductory interviews is that of worthlessness, with many applicants expressing genuine surprise at finally “being given a chance”. Many of these young people feel let down by society and often suffer from extremely low self-esteem as a result.
This is why, In addition to the accommodation, education and training that Recycling Lives offers its Residents, the organisation places significant emphasis on building up its Residents’ sense of self-worth. By encouraging new Residents to take on manageable responsibilities and challenges as early as possible – often just helping to keep the centre clean or undertaking a short course on food hygiene or first aid – Recycling Lives aims to prove to its Residents that they are capable of achieving great things when given the opportunity. The charity’s six-step programme helps Residents to build their way up from small achievements within the supportive environment of its Preston centre to fully independent living and full-time employment.
Mark Channing, Recycling Lives Charity Manager, commented:
“It’s shocking to see how few people in the UK realise that homelessness is a real problem for our young people today. Homelessness often prevents young people getting full access to education, which can quickly lead them into a vicious circle of poverty, crime, prison and re-offending. Many of the Residents we welcome at Recycling Lives are reassured that engaging in the charity programme will assist them in finding employment and independent living. “With our six-stage programme of support, education, training and work experience, we aim to take our Residents through the stages that many of them missed when they should have been in full-time education: bite-size learning, building up self-esteem, working out how to live successful, independent lives and securing full-time employment that will bring them the opportunities that will lead them on to a brighter future.”
The work of the Recycling Lives social welfare charity is funded by the success of Recycling Lives Ltd.’s commercial ventures. Each and every contract that the company is awarded helps to support the charity’s residential centre and offer help, hope and support to Residents who desperately need it.