|Campaign:||Raising awareness of the number of 'hidden homeless'|
A few years ago I fell out in a big way with my family, and as a result left home. There was no way I could afford my own place, so I ended up ‘sofa surfing’ with mates, moving from one to another.
When I was homeless I was shocked to discover just how many young people were living like me, usually as a result of family breakdown. It’s not a good way to live as you feel very vulnerable. Unfortunately, many homeless young people have problems with drink and drugs, which just makes their situation worse. I also spent some time staying at the YMCA in Stoke, where I had a lot of support and was eventually able to resolve things with my family and move back home.
But I wanted to warn other young people about the consequences of leaving home, and how important it is to talk things through with your parents before it gets to that stage. With Tom Simpson, who I met at the YMCA, and with the help of ITV Fixers, we made a film to raise awareness of the number of ‘hidden homeless’, using ice cream as a metaphor for how fragile, but how important, family relationships can be. I played the lead character, a young man who ends up sofa surfing after a fallout with his family. He is forced to move from one home to another as his presence causes tension among the friends he stays with. We held a local screening for the film, which was attended by a regional director of the YMCA. He was so impressed that he ordered hundreds of copies and it’s now being used as a resource at YMCA centres across the country.