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New Horizon Youth Centre: More attention and more money needed to tackle homelessness, says King’s Cross charity

PUBLISHED: 13:30 03 January 2019

New Horizon Youth Centre supports  vulnerable and homeless young people from King's Cross and the surrounding areas. Picture: ADot

New Horizon Youth Centre supports vulnerable and homeless young people from King's Cross and the surrounding areas. Picture: ADot

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A King’s Cross charity has called for homelessness intervention to happen earlier and for local authorities to be given more resources to tackle the issue.

Marike Van Harskamp, from New Horizon Youth Centre, has also urged local and national government to recognise that statistics don’t give a full picture of the problem – because they don’t account for patterns of homelessness seen in young people.

Marike heads up development for the charity which specialises in supporting at risk youths.

She told the Ham&High: “We need to have much more early intervention. There’s quite a bit of work to be done.”

She said tight resources for councils have made it difficult to for many people affected by homelessness to qualify for housing.

“Maybe they are not in priority housing need, but they are still in a dire state. It’s still early days for the Homelessness Reduction Act, but what we’ve seen is local authorities having to do much more of the relief work than prevention.

“That obviously means they need more resources. Therein lies the challenge.”

In November Camden Council released its draft new homelessness strategy, and New Horizon worked with the town hall in producing it.

Marike was pleased with the draft.

She said: “What’s a really good point about the act is that it acknowledges young people need to stay in communities.”

Her colleague Owen Duff added: “For young people who are becoming adults themselves, there’s not the support. And young people, along with minority groups

“If someone doesn’t meet a priority need, then they just don’t get the support.”

Owen and Marike explained that data on homelessness was flawed. Owen said: “Young people often end up sofa-surfing, or riding the buses overnight. They’re often not going to be caught by things like the rough sleepers count.”

Although the cold weather can exacerbate homelessness, Marike wants homelessness on the agenda more. She said: “There’s actually more provision in winter – we need to talk about this year-round.”

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