A youth homelessness charity is encouraging people to live on the contents of an emergency food parcel for a week to help raise funds for its vital work.
Broxtowe Youth Homelessness (BYH) has seen a huge increase in demand for its services, with the number of young people coming to them for help more than doubling in the last two years – up from 88 in 2017/18 to 182 in 2018/19.
As well as providing a drop-in centre and support with education and training, one of the key services the charity offers is emergency food parcels. These basic rations make a huge difference to young people who otherwise may not know where their next meal is coming from.
The charity’s new Food Parcel Challenge is designed to help raise funds for its work, but also to raise awareness of the day to day realities for many of the young people it helps.
It will run from 13-20th September and people are being encouraged to get sponsored to live on a food parcel, or donate the difference between the cost of the food parcel ingredients and their usual weekly shop.
Jessica Brannan, Project Manager, said: “Living on the contents of a food parcel is not as easy as some people might have you believe. The rations really are basic and meals can become very repetitive.
“We hope the challenge will help to shine a light on the struggles faced by the young people we help. We’ll be profiling our work on social media throughout the week and in the run-up to the challenge.
“Homelessness is a growing problem in society and we are seeing a big increase in demand for our services locally. A lot of people think it’s something that won’t happen to them but it really can affect anyone and it’s vital that we raise awareness.”
Broxtowe Youth Homelessness is based in Stapleford and helps young people aged 16-25 across Notts and Derbyshire. The charity is now in its 35th year and has helped over 300 young people in the past two years alone.
It focuses on giving young people the support they need to empower themselves to build a better future. It also works with schools across the area to help teach pupils about the realities of homelessness. All its volunteers are former service users who have been supported to turn their lives around.
Jamie Slack, 25, has been using the service on and off for several years. He said: “There have been times when I was homeless that I’ve gone for several days without food. Knowing that you can come somewhere like this and get help with an emergency food parcel is amazing and helps to take the pressure off.
“People always think that being homeless is never going to happen to them, but you just don’t know. Sometimes something small can snowball and before you know it you don’t have a roof over your head. It can be very scary, but having somewhere like Broxtowe Youth Homelessness where you can come and get support – and friendship – makes a real difference.”
Nationally, around 83,000 young people experience homelessness in the UK every year.
For more information on the food parcel challenge and how you can get involved visit www.broxtoweyouthhomelessness.org.uk or search for #BYHfoodparcelchallenge on social media.