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YMCA urges businesses to support homelessness awareness campaign

The national campaign, run by YMCAs across the UK, aims to raise awareness of the growing problem of youth homelessness and to raise funds for local YMCAs so that they can continue their work with formerly homeless young adults.

Sleep Easy Milton Keynes will take place on March 16 in Fred Roche Gardens, immediately behind The Church of Christ the Cornerstone.

YMCA Milton Keynes is inviting supporters to sleep out overnight in a small tent, or under cardboard, to briefly experience what it is like not to have a bed and a roof over your head.

  • Pictured: Participants in a previous Sleep Easy awareness campaign.

YMCA Milton Keynes chief executive Simon Green said: “We have seen a growing number of homeless people sleeping out in Central Milton Keynes and other parts of the borough. But the street homeless are just the visible tip of a much larger problem that is disproportionately affecting young people.

“There are young people sleeping in cars, sofa surfing or living in unsafe situations where, for example, they may be subject to physical or sexual assault – but have nowhere else to go.”

YMCA was contacted last year by over 1,000 young people in Milton Keynes but was only able to directly help some 350, Mr Green said.

But having a bed and a safe place to stay is just the start for many of the young people who approach YMCA. Many suffer poor mental health as a direct result of the trauma they have had to face. Others will have had a disrupted education and may not have been able to secure stable employment.

YMCA Milton Keynes works with its residents to make them feel valued, to give them a sense of belonging and purpose in life. The formerly homeless young adults learn independent living skills while living in the hostel before graduating to the flats, where they can put the skills into practice.

There are activity programmes designed to improve physical and mental health – YMCA Milton Keynes has its own mental health practitioner, funded by a grant from Milton Keynes Community Foundation, available to provide support and counselling to people who need it. Staff help residents to attain basic educational qualifications and seek training and employment opportunities.

Mr Green said: “We want our residents to move on as confident individuals, with a job and a home but this takes time and resources.”

Anyone interested in taking part in the Sleep Easy event should visit eventbrite.co.uk and searchi for YMCA Milton Keynes Sleep Easy 2018. Alternatively, contact YMCA Milton Keynes on 01908 295600.

Mr Green said: “As we have seen demand for our services increase, we have also seen our funding reduce so every pound we can raise through Sleep Easy will be vital to us and, more importantly, the young people we support.” 

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