Housing Matters’ Peer Education Programme (PEP) uses real life experiences to dispel myths about homelessness and highlight the reality of living without permanent accommodation. In 2016, Housing Matters met 48 people aged 20 or under, including 23 who had left home due to breakdowns in family relationships.
The PEP has been made possible thanks to the generous sponsorship of developer Dandara, which has agreed to fund the project for an initial five years.
PEP is primarily aimed at 14 and 15-year-olds, although the content can be adapted for other audiences, and will be delivered in sessions in schools and to youth organisations across the Island. It will be led by Programme Coordinator Katie Farrall and are offered to any school or organisation interested in hosting a session. As the programme develops it is hoped former services users could attend to give first-hand accounts of their experiences.
Katie explained: ‘Every year Housing Matters is contacted by dozens of teenagers who are without permanent accommodation. The majority are sofa surfers, relying on friends, and many end up in entirely unsuitable accommodation, often overcrowded and with threats of intimidation. Sadly, some have no option but to sleep rough.
‘Most leave home because they feel they have no option following issues with their family; some want the “freedom” they think comes with not living with their parents. Some may have little idea of the reality of independent living, or the help and assistance available if they make that decision.’
‘The purpose of the Peer Education Programme is to show them that reality, so they are equipped to make informed decisions. We draw on the real life experiences of current and former service users, anonymised to protect confidentiality, to explain the reasons why they left home, what happened to them and where they found help.
‘We want to empower young people by providing them with the knowledge they need to make informed choices, and advice on the support available if their home life is untenable. This may be in partnership with Government departments and other agencies.’
To find out about hosting a PEP session, please contact Housing Matters on 675507 or email@example.com.