YMCA Norfolk launches Home for Christmas appeal
YMCA Norfolk has launched a Home for Christmas campaign which aims to help ensure that no young person in Norfolk has to sleep on the street, in cars or on friends' floors this Christmas.
At a time when homelessness is on the increase, YMCA Norfolk will provide a safe home for over 240 homeless young people and support them towards a brighter future this Christmas - people like 22-year-old Thomas Hannant who lives in YMCA Supported Lodgings in Norwich.
Thomas was just nine years old when he returned home from playing at the park one day to find his mother, Donna, dead.
"I went in and saw my mum with her head on her hands and under her hands was a note which she had written," said Thomas. "After that I was depressed and not myself for a long time and was taking anti-depressants."
Thomas went to live with his dad and when that did not work out, he went into care just before Christmas, around his 11th birthday.
He went to live with his foster parents: "They were brilliant," said Thomas. "They were very supportive and are still there for me today. With their help I came off the anti-depressants by the time I was 13. They encouraged me to go to college and take up riding horses," he said.
When he was 20, Thomas moved into the YMCA's My Place, and then into Supported Lodgings in Norwich with a lady called Freda who he gets on really well with.
"I cook for myself and a friend as well sometimes. I have been offered the chance to start some voluntary work in a horse yard soon. I have already done a diploma and NVQ in Equine Studies at Easton College.
"The YMCA has helped me with finding a place to live and with managing my money, which I was really bad at. They have also helped me to come out of my shell as I was a very shy person and not much good at talking to people. I even got the chance to make some plum jam which we sold at the YMCA celebration event recently."
Thomas is looking forward to spending this Christmas with his sister Sonia and will also visit his mum's grave to lay a holly wreath, which he tries to do every year.
YMCA Norfolk chief executive, Tim Sweeting, said: "There are vulnerable children and young people out there who are sleeping on the streets, in cars, or on a series of friends' floors until they run out of options.
"They have no safe base from which to build a life for themselves. So we are encouraging the local community to join us in making sure no child or young person experiences the instability and fear of having no place to call home.
"As the winter weather draws in we become all the more aware of children, young people and families who are without a home. Last year we would have needed an additional 285 homes to house all the people who applied to us," said Tim. "So we are redoubling our efforts to provide a safe warm home through our 'Home for Christmas?' campaign."
You can help support someone like Thomas this Christmas and give them hope for the future.
Text YMCA15 and your amount to 70070 to make your donation.
Donate online at Virgin Money Giving
Donate offline by sending a cheque to YMCA Norfolk, 35-37 Exchange Street, Norwich, NR2 1DP
What your donation could do
£10 would provide a Christmas gift for a young person who might otherwise go without.
£50 would provide emergency accommodation for a young person made homeless this Christmas
£250 would pay for Christmas dinner for all the young people in one of our housing services.
£1,250 would pay for all the food we need over the Christmas period.
Pictured above is Thomas Hannant in Norwich.