On 21st March 2017 I was given an amazing opportunity to travel to London, and speak at the houses of parliament. The event was the YHP (Youth Homelessness Parliament.) The homelessness MP Marcus Jones attended and listened to what we had to say. The best thing about the event for me was the participation from all the young people that attended. It was just amazing for me to be surrounded by people who have been in similar situations to me and are actively trying to make a difference in order to promote a better future for young people.
It would have been better for me if the MP had had more time to reflect on everything that was said and was able to give a proper response. I feel like he just very broadly went over what was said with tenuous links, as well as diminishing the question everyone felt strongly about. (Regarding housing benefit cuts to 18-21 year olds.) It would also have been great if the MP was there for the discussions we had prior to everything else, as these had some really valid points as well as some ideas to help resolve Youth homelessness. These included how we represent homeless people in the media to diminish stereotypes and how to make people more aware of homelessness by providing homelessness awareness sessions (something we actively do as part of Broxtowe Youth Homelessness).
When I was speaking, I told my lived experience of homelessness, as well as explaining why some of the recommendations would make a massive impact on reducing homelessness. A couple of these recommendations were that teachers are to have teacher training in order to recognise people in distress. Another recommendation was to have Life Skills Programme’s implemented in schools. I feel the education system is old fashioned. Schools don’t teach life skills, as this was something families would be expected to teach their children. However, in this day and age, there are so many exemptions. A LOT of people don’t have a stable family home. How do you expect people to know how to budget/cook proper foods etc, when they were brought up in an environment where they didn’t get taught how to even ride a bike? These are things people take for granted.
Overall I found it was an amazing experience and I am really grateful for the opportunity. It felt amazing that all of us came together to have united voice. There were people who had been care leavers who struggled to move on from homelessness, as well as prison leavers etc. We were all from different backgrounds and cultures, but we all want to reduce homelessness in the UK and the impact it has on young people and for that, everyone that attended should be really proud.