Islington shelter gives young rough sleepers a warm welcome

Coordinator Jerone Hipplewith, right, take some rest with volunteers at Crash Pad shelter in Caledon

Coordinator Jerone Hipplewith, right, take some rest with volunteers at Crash Pad shelter in Caledonian Methodist Church - Credit: Archant

A facility to keep homeless young people out of the cold this Christmas has opened, launching an appeal for volunteers and donations.

Pilion Trust was established four years ago by Savvis Panas as a cold-weather shelter from December to May for teenagers sleeping rough.

Mr Panas, 45, said there was a need for the facility as young people feared for their safety using adult hostels.

He said: “Some of our young people are 17 or 18 years old but they aren’t accepted to go to adult hostels. Others are put off; they hear scary stories about violence and find that more frightening than risking their lives on the streets.”

The shelter, based in Caledonian Methodist Church, off of Caledonian Road and Market Road provides a four week residency for the youngsters during which they are taught to be self sufficient.

They are given a warm place to sleep in return for helping to cook meals, providing support to newcomers and getting back into work or education during the day.

Volunteer Dawn Tuckwell, 31, also of Hope Church, in Holloway Road, a Pilion Trust partner, said: “The key thing is the scheme introduces people from different backgrounds, which teaches them a lot. We all sit around after dinner and chat about political issues or news and it is really nice for them to have a chance to talk to people.

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“These are kids who haven’t had people around them and in some instances, especially for girls, their confidence is low. We work with them to help build that.”

Mr Panas said the residency also helped isolated youngsters become part of the community.

Kasim, 18, said: “It’s very relaxing here. If I wasn’t here I would probably be paying for a hostel or spending the night on a night bus.”

Marcus, 20, added: “I would be on the street. I have only been in England for 10 days; if it wasn’t for Pilion I would be alone. They are not being noticed enough for what they do. They go though a lot to help us.”

Miss Tuckwell said: “I think from our perspective we really want to let people know that this service exists and that there are things they can do to help, be that volunteering or donating.”

Mr Panas has a budget of £4.90 per person, per day, to feed and clothe the users of the shelter. He said that even the Christmas presents that people usually do not want such as underwear and socks are ideal donations.

He said: “In November, Centre Point estimated 15000 young people under 25 were sleeping rough in London. That is a lot of our future not to be able to get started in life.”

To find out more:

To donate by mobile: PILI00 £1 - £10 to 70070 or SHME11 £1-10 to 70070

Justgiving donation:

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