Chesterfield sofa push highlights youth homelessness
Young people and the organisations and individuals who support them took action to raise awareness of youth homelessness '“ by pushing a sofa around a Chesterfield park for 24 hours.
The unusual challenge took place on the jogging track at Queen’s Park from midday on Thursday, October 12, (finishing 24 hours later) and was organised by SAFE, a consortium that provides accommodation and support for homeless young people in Derbyshire.
A specially adapted sofa, complete with a surfboard to symbolise the issue of sofa surfing, was pushed around the track in a continuous relay by dozens of volunteers ranging from staff and service users, to police officers and members of the public.
The event, which was started by Chesterfield Mayor Cllr Maureen Davenport and timed to coincide with World Homeless Day, was supported by volunteers from the Rapid Relief Team (logistical support and catering) and Tesco (food to keep the volunteers going).
SAFE Operations Manager Claire Windebank said: “Homelessness is affecting more and more young people across the country, but they are often hidden from view. That means that many people are unaware of both the scale of this problem or the very particular challenges faced by young people who have nowhere to call home. The surfing sofa featured in this event is intended to bring attention to their plight.
“The young people we support are often very vulnerable indeed and can have considerable support needs around their mental health, offending behaviours and/ or their use of drugs and alcohol. Some have only recently left the care system; others come from very unstable or abusive family backgrounds. Whilst they are unlikely to sleep on the streets, they often live from night to night with friends, relatives and acquaintances in environments that are unstable or insecure.
“They need more than a roof over their heads and money in their pockets; they need specialist support that is appropriate to their age group and addressed the very specific challenges they face. We hope this event will make people think more deeply about this issue.”
Money raised at the sofa push in collection buckets will be split between SAFE and Pathways, a housing crisis service in Chesterfield.
SAFE service manager Julia Mellors said: “We are tired but elated that we have managed to get to the end of this challenge. I would like to thank everyone who made this event possible. It has raised awareness of a serious local issue, and brought people together from different parts of the community.”