Roundabout: A homeless charity for young people at the heart of Sheffield
Roundabout is a charity local to the Sheffield area, and supports homeless young people aged 16-25. It is also the only homeless charity to offer support to homeless 16 and 17 year olds on an emergency basis.
Currently, Roundabout’s fantastic work supports around 150 young people every day, and, since it first opened its doors in 1977, has helped over 10,000 vulnerable young people in the area. Sadly, it still has to turn away hundreds from its service each year because it is full to capacity.
I spoke with Ruth Gage, Fundraising and Communications Manager at the charity, and specifically wanted to find out more about this unique charity, how it operates, who it helps and what the current challenges are facing such a necessary support service within the city for vulnerable young people.
What would you say are the most common reasons for a young person becoming homeless or contacting you for help?
By far the most common risk to a young person becoming homeless are problems within the family, which often then leads to feeling the need to leave home. Roundabout is strongly committed to preventing young people from becoming homeless and believes home is the best place to be if it is safe to be there.
That’s why, in June 2014, we opened our new Homeless Prevention Service to offer advice and support to young people aged 16 to 25 who are close to becoming homeless due to family relationship breakdown or for any other reason they feel they may be at risk of losing their home. Where possible we work with the whole family by offering mediation between young people and their parents, helping them to find solutions to problems that will enable a safe return home.
If a young person feels they have no other choice but to leave home, how do they access your services?
Our prevention service operates on a drop in basis and is open Monday-Friday – 1pm-4pm, (at 22 Union Street – 0114 2728424). This is the first point of contact. From here, our staff can guide them to the service that is appropriate for them. Young people can also refer themselves to our supporting tenants’ service – a project that supports young people living in their own home.
Once you have met with a young person who needs help, what services do Roundabout offer them?
We have a variety of services to support young people aged 16-25 who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless. This includes:
An emergency hostel which provides emergency and medium-stay accommodation for homeless single young people aged 16 to 21. Young people can stay at the hostel for up to 6 weeks, which can then be extended to 6 months if they need continued support. Hostel residents are assigned a staff member called a ‘key worker’ who works with them. Together they then produce a ‘needs assessment’, which identifies where the young person might need support.
Number 11 Adjacent to the hostel, Roundabout has 5 self-contained flats, providing a home for 8 young people. Residents have the same ‘key worker’ and support provision as residents in the core hostel, but they will have started or are working towards some form of education, training or employment.
Supporting Tenants is a project that supports young people living in their own home. The service works across the whole of Sheffield and can support people living in council, housing association and private rented accommodation. Supporting Tenants works in partnership with young people to provide the level of support necessary for them to maintain their own tenancies and empowering them to continue this once support has been withdrawn.
Roundabout Resettlement Team has around 40 bed spaces in single flats around the city. These units are available for young people to prepare for independent living in a semi-supported housing setting. The single units are primarily for young people referred by either Social Services or Sheffield Youth Justice Service.
The prevention centre (mentioned above) also includes our peer Education Project which focuses on delivering homeless education to students under 16 years old.
Our dedicated team of Peer Educators, all young people who have experienced homelessness themselves, will now operate from our Homeless Prevention Service and continue to visit Personal, Social and Health Education lessons in Secondary Schools across the city.
What are the particular issues you see these young people facing?
The young people we work with face many of the same issues of any young people their age. However, they often deal with these issues without the support network of family and friends, and a safe place to stay. We provide the accommodation, support and life skills they need to help overcome these issues.
What would you say is the biggest difficulty you face as a charity helping homeless young people in Sheffield?
We need to continue to raise funds to keep our services going, and to grow as the need increases. As a small charity our biggest challenge is raising awareness of who we are and what we do.
What is it that makes Roundabout special as a charity in Sheffield?
We are the only charity in Sheffield to provide a homeless prevention service for 16-25 year olds.
Do the young people you assist keep in touch once they leave your service?
A lot of our young people keep in touch with their support workers. We love hearing how well they’re getting on and how excited they are when they get a new job or place on a college course.
I’m sure that must be very rewarding for their support workers, and for the charity. Are there any specific fundraising projects you are working on currently?
We are currently fundraising to refurbish our No 11 property, as it is run down and in need of new heating systems, kitchens and decorating throughout. If anyone would like any more information on how to support this campaign, they can visit http://www.roundabouthomeless.org/fundraising.
I’m sure many people in Sheffield will be unaware that there is such a demand for homeless services for so many of our young people, as I admit I was. It really is a great charity to support, being right at the heart of the city and supporting some of, what must be, the most vulnerable people in the area. For more information contact: http://www.roundabouthomeless.org/.