Peer project to tackle young homelessness

Pictured L-R are Peer Mentoring Project Apprentice, Saoirse McEvoy, the Housing Executive's Caroline Connor, Peer mentoring Project Apprentice, Blair Anderson,  the Northern Ireland Youth Forum's Amanda  Stewart and the Department for Communities' Avril Hiles.(Photo - Tom Heaney, nwpresspics)
Pictured L-R are Peer Mentoring Project Apprentice, Saoirse McEvoy, the Housing Executive's Caroline Connor, Peer mentoring Project Apprentice, Blair Anderson, the Northern Ireland Youth Forum's Amanda Stewart and the Department for Communities' Avril Hiles.(Photo - Tom Heaney, nwpresspics)

For anyone who has encountered homelessness or been threatened with losing their home, it can be quite daunting and stressful.

So imagine what it could be like for teenagers or young adults who have yet to experience independence, emotionally or financially.

The Northern Ireland Housing Executive has been working closely with the Northern Ireland Youth Forum (NIYF) to identify pathways into homelessness and to look at measures which may have prevented young people from becoming homeless.

The Department for Communities asked the Housing Executive to look at new ways of working to improve service delivery, and, a successful bid of funding to the Department was granted to employ two apprentices to support other young people that may be threatened with homelessness.

Funding for the new peer mentoring project is secured for five years and will be delivered by NIYF.

The peer mentoring was launched at the Housing Executive’s recent conference in Derry-Londonderry as one of the outcomes from its second annual report on the Homelessness Strategy 2017-22: Ending Homelessness Together.

Amanda Stewart, Project Leader with NIYF, said: “We are really excited about this new opportunity. It can be extremely daunting for a young person with little or no experience of housing matters to be faced with homelessness.

“If we can find a way to make that journey easier, then this project will be really worthwhile.

“It is also wonderful for two young people that have experienced homelessness to be able to share that experience to improve the lives of others,” she said.

The apprentices, Saoirse McEvoy and Blair Anderson, will work to improve online information to make it more accessible to young people.

Saoirse and Blair will also target people in youth clubs, schools, etc to highlight homeless triggers and encourage anyone that may be in difficulty to seek help.