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NEW SCHEMES PREVENT YOUNG PEOPLE ENDING UP ON THE STREETS

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New schemes to help ensure young people, especially those leaving care, do not end up sleeping rough on the streets...
New schemes to help ensure young people, especially those leaving care, do not end up sleeping rough on the streets were unveiled by the government's rough sleepers unit (RSU) today. Cabinet office minister, Dr Mo Mowlam and head of the RSU, Louise Casey, made the announcement of grants totalling over half a million pounds for new

projects around the country.

This was made at the official launch of a new 'Safe Stop' for young people sleeping rough in London. The project, funded by the RSU, will be run by the charity Centrepoint to provide short-term accommodation for homeless young people aged between 16-24.

The RSU also announced today funding for Centrepoint to provide a careleaving strategy support service to local authorities in London. This will help to ensure young people receive a well-managed transition from care to independent living.

This new project follow on from the key findings of new report by National Children's Bureau, published today jointly by the RSU and the department of health. One of the main findings from Leaving Care: time for change, research carried out across London boroughs, was that the provision of support to young people leaving care across London is not consistent. The audit identifies areas of provision that need further work and highlights practical solutions by referring to best practice already in place.

Dr Mowlam, who has overall responsibility for ensuring that the government's policies to reduce social exclusion are implemented effectively, said:

'These new schemes will help to make sure that young people, especially those who have been in care, have the chance to rebuild their lives. With this kind of support, we can keep this most vulnerable group from the spiral of decline which can be triggered by sleeping rough on the streets.'

Yvette Cooper, health minister, said: 'There is evidence that we are beginning to see real improvements in services for care leavers thanks to government initiatives such as quality protects.

But the report 'Leaving care: time for change' demonstrates that we still have much to do. The projects announced today will greatly assist local authorities in the steps they are taking to provide these young people with the support they need and deserve.'

Head of the rough sleepers unit, Louise Casey, who has the target of reducing the number of people sleeping rough by at least two thirds by 2002, said: 'As well as helping those sleeping rough tonight, we must prevent a new generation of tomorrow's rough sleepers. This is why the government is targeting help on those leaving prison and the armed forces, and children leaving care to ensure they do not end up in a doorway.'

Other projects around the country funded by the RSU include:

* In Newcastle, the Depaul Trust will help former homeless young people go into schools and explain to other youngsters how to prepare for the challenges of independent living. Care leavers are a group identified as being at particular risk of sleeping rough in Newcastle so Depaul will recruit peer educators who have experienced both of the care system and homelessness.

* In Brighton and Oxford, Centrepoint will educate young people about the dangers of sleeping rough and provide housing advice to prevent rough sleeping. The project will target those at particular risk of rough sleeping - care leavers, young ex-offenders and those excluded from mainstream education.

* In London, Alone in London will offer family mediation and returning home services for young people in the Safe Stop, rolling shelters and day centres.

* In Bristol, NCH Action for Children will develop a Nightstop giving emergency accommodation within the community to young people who may otherwise become homeless. The RSU are also funding Nightstop UK to develop Nightstops in new areas throughout the UK.

NOTES

1. Full copies of Leaving care: time for change are available by calling 020 7944 3600. An executive summary and recommendations is available from the DETR website here.

2. In December 1999, the government published 'Coming in from the cold', the government's strategy on rough sleeping, which outlines plans for meeting the prime minister's target of reducing the number of people sleeping rough by at least two thirds by 2002. Copies are available from DETR Free Literature, Freepost NEA 8843, Wetherby, LS23 6YY.

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