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Young people create unique Christmas tree inspired by life on the streets

PUBLISHED: 12:12 08 November 2016 | UPDATED: 12:25 08 November 2016

Volunteers of Ally Wylie Tower Foundation & Pilion Trust building a  Ho Ho Homeless Tree. This Christmas AWTF is hoping to highlight the plight of disadvantaged young people. Photo: Nigel Sutton

Volunteers of Ally Wylie Tower Foundation & Pilion Trust building a Ho Ho Homeless Tree. This Christmas AWTF is hoping to highlight the plight of disadvantaged young people. Photo: Nigel Sutton

© Nigel Sutton email pictures@nigelsuttonphotography.com

Volunteers and young people with experience of homelessness have designed a unique Christmas tree to raise awareness of sleeping rough this winter

The group, from the Alexandra Wylie Tower Foundation (AWTF), a Ham&High charity partner, and the Pilion Trust, which supports young homeless people, rolled up their sleeves at the Highgate Newtown Community Centre on Sunday.

The unusual-looking tree, formed of guitars and a shopping trolley, was inspired by street memories.

AWTF founder Lindsey Wylie said: “We asked them to bring things that represented the time that they spent on the streets.

“They thought of the trolley and the guitars...

“They found things that would bring it home to people.”

Lindsey set up the charity in 2011 after the death of her 17-year-old daughter, Allie, from cancer.

She said: “Alexandra loved everything about Christmas.

“She was lucky enough to grow up enjoying the day surrounded by the warmth of family and friends.

“Since we started the charity, it has been heartbreaking to see how many young people there are struggling in isolation.

“Trying to get through the festive season without money or a home is very difficult.”

Charity Homeless Link say numbers of homeless under 21-year-olds in Camden will rise to 567 this winter.

Thomas Dalton, 20, spent some time at the Winter homeless shelter run by the Pilion Trust last year.

He said: “Spending Christmas alone and homeless can be a really low and depressing time for young people, but it is charities like AWTF and Pilion that give the Christmas spirit to people who may have given up hope and also help give that family feeling when you are by yourself.”

Pilion Trust founder Savvas Panas said: “Youth homelessness is a growing problem, with more frightening funding cuts and sanctions having been introduced on November 7.

“This year, we are hoping to get support and donations from our local businesses and communities.

“And my Christmas wish is to be given a house to support and help the young people all year round and not just for Christmas.”

The “HO HO HOmeless” Christmas tree will be on display at Lauderdale House as part of a Festival of Christmas Trees on December 10th-11th.

Lindsey Wylie said: “There is an urgent need for help and so we are appealing for donations as well as food, presents and warm coats.”

– Items can be dropped at the Alexandra Tower Foundation offices, 70 Gladsmuir Road N19 3JU, or under the tree when it is at Lauderdale House. Donations can be made to https://www.justgiving.com/awtf/donate or https://www.justgiving.com/piliontrust.

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