Isle of Man News - POSTED Fri 08-02-2019

School pupils learn about reality of homelessness

by TH

School pupils learn about reality of homelessness

Pupils at The Buchan School have learned more about the reality of homelessness in the Isle of Man through the Peer Education Programme.

Katie Farrall and Margaret Howie from Island charity Housing Matters spoke to children in four different year groups to raise awareness of the issue.

The initiative, which is sponsored by Dandara, uses real life experiences to dispel myths about homelessness and highlight the stark position of living without permanent accommodation.

During the presentation Margaret read her thought provoking poem ‘Where did you sleep last night?’ and encouraged the students to think more about the topic by setting a poetry competition.

Programme Coordinator Katie explains: "Every year the demand for Housing Matters is growing and worryingly the people using the charity are getting younger, with dozens of teenagers, who are without permanent accommodation, needing our help.

"The majority are sofa surfers, relying on friends, and many end up staying in entirely unsuitable accommodation.

"Sadly some have no option but to sleep rough and until then have little idea about the reality of independent living, or the help and assistance available.

"The purpose of the Peer Education Programme is to inform young people and raise awareness of the issue of homelessness in the Island, which is far more widespread than most people know.

"Whilst teenage years may seem a way off for pupils at primary schools, helping them to understand the problem now will help in the future.

"By increasing acceptance of the problem Housing Matters hopes to further engage society in addressing the issue."

Additional Peer Education presentations are planned over the coming months and are being offered to any school or organisation interested in hosting a session.

Dandara Marketing Director Jo Orton says: "We had no hesitation in committing to a long-term sponsorship agreement to allow Housing Matters to deliver this programme.

"The initiative aims to empower young people by providing them with the knowledge they need to make informed choices.

"It is an innovative approach to a very real problem so it’s encouraging to see them visiting Island schools, and for the students to engage with this important topic." 

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