For young people, the experience of homelessness is like being trapped in a maze – obstacle after obstacle, dead-end after dead end. For many people living on the streets or in hostels, education is all but inaccessible and long-term employment a pipe dream.
And it’s no small issue. Last year alone, 103,000 young people approached their local authority for help dealing with homelessness or the serious risk of it.
Until the establishment of End Youth Homelessness (EYH), there was no UK-wide initiative addressing the problem. EYH is a national movement of local youth homelessness charities that have joined forces to tackle the crisis. Together, they support more than 30,000 young people every year, helping them find housing, education and essential support.
On Wednesday 16 October, EYH is launching a national billboard campaign to raise awareness for its new Employability Fund – an initiative introduced in September to help homeless young people access the education and training they need to secure and sustain a job. The fund enables a nationwide network of specialist practitioners who provide tailored, one-to-one Education, Employment & Training (EET) support, helping them build the skills, and confidence they need to go back into education or secure their first job.
To launch the campaign, EYH teamed up with artist and designer Camille Walala, who has created the poster designs, which will appear at 60 sites across London and another 60 at locations around the UK – Bristol, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Manchester and Sheffield – all donated to the campaign by ad-space agency Jack.
“We hope by donating our poster space we are able to help raise awareness around an issue that affects so many, and bring hope, community and opportunity into the lives of young homeless people.”
Khaly Nguyen, head of marketing, Jack
Camille’s design is rooted in the campaign’s creative concept, which was developed by ad agency Truant London, who devised the idea of the maze as a means of visualising the barriers that young people can face in escaping homelessness. Truant’s concept presents education as the route out of the maze and encourages viewers to find out more and donate to the fund. A sum as small as £23 is enough to get a young person an hour of specialist employability support and put them on the path to a fulfilling future. For every £1,200, EYH can support a homeless young person into an education or employment pathway which will transform their life.
“Our collaboration with EYH and Camille Walala is the next step on our journey to shine a light on the issue of youth homelessness. With the right education and motivation, young people can go on to achieve incredible things.”
Linn Frost, partner, Truant London
Camille Walala then applied her distinctive aesthetic and sense of colour to the brief, designing a striking, hopeful and characteristically positive poster. EYH was keen to partner with Camille for the project because of the sense of hope that her work embodies – an outlook perfectly suited to a campaign intended to build hope and aspiration.
“My work has always been driven by my belief that colour and pattern can make a positive difference to people’s lives. It’s a privilege to have the opportunity to put that philosophy into practice for such an important initiative as End Youth Homelessness. I’m proud to be involved – it means a lot to me.”
Initiatives such as the EYH Employment Fund can play a vital role in breaking the cycle of deprivation and have a real impact on young people, who can too often slip through the cracks. EYH’s new short film tells the real-life story of one such person, Jess, made homeless at 16, whose experience of working with a job coach led her to pursue a qualification and career in youth work, and ultimately to her own home, the appeal demonstrates how even small donations can have a transformative impact on young people’s lives. Jess’ story was told by Michael Sheen on https://www.bbc.co.uk/sounds/play/m0008p3d in September and has been powerfully brought to life in a short film by the production collective Mill+, available on youtube, just search ‘Jess’s story – End Youth Homelessness.
“Jess’ story really resonated with us. We wanted to do it justice and tell it in a natural, down-to-earth way that would move and inspire the audience and really get the message out about the cause.”
Alfie Johnson, director, Mill+
The launch of the Employability Fund also coincided with the release of A Brighter Future, a piece of research and accompanying toolkit that EYH created in collaboration with the Young Foundation that explores best practices for employers and job coaches working with young people.
Each strand of the campaign builds on a single simple message – succinctly expressed in the poster design: “Education paves the way from homeless to home.”
“We’re delighted to have continued support from Truant, Jack and Mill+ for our campaign, and are thrilled that Camille Walala has joined us. With a little help, homeless young people have enormous potential to overcome barriers and go on to live hopeful futures. We need to highlight the brutal circumstances faced by homeless young people and empower the public to take action.”
Nick Connolly, managing director, End Youth Homelessness