For the past forty years I have been involved with a day centre in London that served vulnerable and homeless young people aged between 16 and 21.
It’s one of the very hardest to fund. This is not least because many people – many in authority too – regard this group as in some way homeless through their own fault.
Few of the young people our team has worked with can ever be said to have actually chosen to become homeless.
Since I worked at the centre as Director – before I became a journalist – the issues for the young people have rarely changed.
Many come from the care system, some come from fractured homes. Some have been abused. Many have consequent mental health difficulties or problematic substance abuse.
The welfare state and many trusts find these kind of people who present multiple needs, almost the hardest to fund. They fail to fit into key funding criteria, and consequently fall through the net.
Targeted at young offenders and care leavers, our centre managed to obtain funds from the Big Lottery’s Youth in Focus fund. Now comes funding targeted at adults with multiple and complex needs.
Fulfilling Lives was announced today by the Big Lottery. It is a fund worth £112 million. It is estimated that some 60,000 adults are experiencing a combination of mental difficulties, re-offending, and homelessness.
It is rare indeed to find oneself blogging about good news. But in the sector in which I spend some energy and time that people spend on mobile casino games, Fulfilling Lives is a huge new commitment to what we do.
Long ago, the welfare state wrestled with these issues – in some areas it still does. But with the current flooding and more beside, the Big Lottery is today’s resource.
While the Prime Minister was able stand up and pledge millions to flood victims and their rehabilitation, such a commitment to the homeless and vulnerable would simply never happen these days.
The Big Lottery is filling the void. It’s all part of our evolving society and the ways in which we now respond to those with such multiple needs.