At the age of 13, Lydia was placed into care because of the violence and neglect she experienced at home. At 15, it was thought the situation had improved, so her social worker arranged for her to return to her family. Unfortunately, the abuse started once again. Lydia felt she had no choice but to leave home for good.
She turned to her Local Authority for help but they did not believe her story. They said she should return home.
Refused support and unable to go home, Lydia was forced to sleep on friends’ sofas or to staying with people she had just met. Often, her only option was to spend the nights on the streets.
As a young homeless female, Lydia was at serious risk of sexual exploitation.
Unfortunately, her story is not unique. It is estimated that around a third of homeless people have been in care at some point. Vulnerable, scared, with nowhere to live and no one to turn to.
Lydia’s Local Authority had a duty to support her. However, as a desperate 16 year old and with no one to advise her, she didn’t know her rights or how to access them.
When Lydia met Coram’s Homeless Outreach advocate at a London youth homeless centre, we explained what she was entitled to. With our support and guidance, Lydia challenged the Local Authority’s decision to deny her safe housing. Soon, she was given the safe accommodation she was entitled to.
We did not rest there.
Coram recognises that these young people are vulnerable and need help to start rebuilding their lives. Our advocate made sure Lydia had support in place to plan for her future. She has now returned to education and is studying for her Level 2 Youth Work certificate.
Thanks to Coram’s Homeless Outreach project, Lydia has hope for her future and wants to make a difference to other young lives.
We know, however, that there are more young people like Lydia out there now. Vulnerable, homeless, and feeling hopeless about their future. Coram is here to help them, and we hope that you will be too.