The Green Party’s co-leader and candidate for London Mayor Sian Berry has urged the Government to act to tackle homelessness among young people and rehouse homeless youths immediately.
Between July and September this year numbers of young people sleeping were up 47% from the same period last year, making up 11% of the city’s rough sleepers.
The Green Party started a petition to the current Mayor of London Sadiq Khan, after he acknowledged during Thursday’s Mayor’s Question Time that there was no dedicated emergency accommodation for London’s under 25s.
Berry said: “This is an awful situation because, for someone so young, you’ve never been on the streets before so you don’t know how to survive. It’s really scary and can do real harm to people’s long term prospects.
“Once you’re on the streets, you can get all kinds of pressures and vulnerabilities coming to bear.
“We have to provide more spaces for everybody who’s on the streets, but for under 25’s, they ought to be supported away from other rough sleepers and given specific youth worker support and help to get themselves back on their feet.”
Berry added that the pandemic meant the numbers of young people who were street homeless increased as they could no longer sleep on friends’ sofas.
They remained hidden from official homelessness figures because they could usually find a sofa or a floor to sleep on.
Green Party research suggested that nearly 150,000 Londoners have had to turn someone away.
Berry, who was elected in the Highgate ward of Camden council in 2014, is up against Labour’s Sadiq Khan and Conservative candidate Shaun Bailey in next year’s London Mayoral election.
Her policies focus on climate change and the homeless crisis in London.
When asked what she loves about London, Berry said: “Its spirit and its values are important to me.
“We have our own autonomy and democracy.”
Berry advised that if you see a young homeless person to suggest they call their local council for emergency accommodation.
People in the age group of 16-25 are more vulnerable when sleeping rough because they’re in an early stage of their social development.
Street Link also offers help to young rough sleepers in London.