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  1. ITV Report

'My first night was petrifying' - The young people sleeping rough on Welsh streets

  • By ITV Cymru Wales Presenter Andrea Byrne

You may remember a couple of months ago, ITV Cymru Wales Wales dedicated a special week of coverage to the growing issue of homelessness.

The problem of rough sleeping, in particular, has doubled in the last three years in Cardiff alone.

It is a similar situation in towns and cities across Wales.

During our coverage we told the story of several people - men and women - living on the streets right now.

John sleeps in the doorway of a concert arena in the middle of Cardiff every night

What you may be more surprised at though, is that the problem extends in a big way to young people.

In Wales every year, it is estimated by the leading homeless charity Llamau that up to 7,000 young people aged between 16 and 24 ask for help with issues around homelessness - and 3,500 actually experience homelessness.

7,000
Young people between 16-24 ask for help with 'issues around homelessness'

Young people can often find themselves homeless for up to 18 months - whether that is in a hostel, sofa-surfing with friends or even sleeping rough on the streets.

It is often due to family breakdowns or difficulties transitioning from care. What’s more, because they are frequently moving from one temporary room to another, their plight often goes unnoticed.

I wanted to find out more about what it’s like to be sleeping rough at a young age.

Seventeen-year-old Corey was just 15 when he found himself homeless after a family fallout.

He spent over two months trying to find safe places to bed down on the streets of Bridgend.

Corey was unaware that help - and hostels - existed for young people in need of a place to stay.

He told me how he was scared to be sleeping rough at such a young age and how he yearned for a happy life.

One day, a local PCSO noticed he had been carrying a bag for a while and she pushed him for the reason. Once she found out he was homeless, she directed him to the council who found him a safe place.

Corey has passed his exams and is living in a hostel

Corey is now living in a hostel and, despite struggling through homelessness, he has passed his exams. Now, he is studying music at college and wants to become a music therapist to help children with disabilities.

Llamau, is hoping to change things for young people leading such unstable lives.

76%
young homeless people say they didn't know where to go to get help

Chief Executive Frances Beecher told ITV News that "no young person should spend even an hour sleeping on the streets".

This week she launched a campaign to fundraise for dedicated phone line to provide advice and assistance to youngsters in these circumstances.

The 24/7 line will be the first of its kind in the UK. The charity needs £60,000 to run the service for a year.

With a new help line, Llamau hopes to prevent teenagers like Corey from spending any time without a safe bed to sleep in.