Perspectives

The construction industry can change lives for young homeless people

Leah De Silva, Deputy Chief Executive and Head of Fundraising and Partnerships at LandAid, explains how the construction industry is working together to end youth homelessness

Too many young people don’t have a home. Nowhere to feel safe, have relationships or build a future. But the construction industry is making a difference.

How are they doing this? By backing LandAid’s new focus to provide homes for vulnerable young people. LandAid funds projects around the country that are creating safe places to live for young people who desperately need them.

As the property industry charity, we are calling on property and construction companies to help us provide at least 450 bedspaces for young people over the next three years.

Through our ‘Sponsor a Home’ campaign, we are bringing derelict properties back to life as affordable accommodation for young homeless people. Not only does this tackle youth homelessness, it helps to address the problem of long-term empty properties – there are currently 200,000 in England alone.

It is a scandal that so many potential homes are left unused while young homeless people are resorting to staying with strangers, sleeping in overcrowded hostels or, worse still, ending up on the streets.

We’re proud that Mace has thrown its support behind the campaign. They have been a keen supporter of LandAid for years – they’ve been a foundation partner since 2013, and Mace’s Chief Executive Mark Reynolds is a trustee. In March, the company announced that LandAid will be one of the four strategic charity partners it selected to work with to achieve the Mace Foundation’s 2020 goals.

Through a donation from the Foundation, Mace has part-funded the renovation of an empty property in Leicester, providing safe housing for young people and personalised support to help them achieve successful, independent futures. Providing homes is one of the construction industry’s greatest strengths. As masters in creating space and shaping communities, the industry is well-placed to help young people with no private space, who often feel cut off from their community as a result of being homeless.

A home doesn’t just protect young people from living on the streets; it gives them somewhere they can build a future for themselves. It gives a young person the peace and quiet to study for exams, a fixed address so they can find a permanent job, and a place where they can build relationships and provide for a family.

The very act of creating a home can help provide a more secure future for a young person. Throughout the renovation and maintenance of LandAid’s projects, local unemployed people and future tenants are able to volunteer, learn valuable construction skills and gain qualifications.

At a time when the construction industry is facing a skills shortage, companies like Mace that fund LandAid projects are helping to train the construction workers of tomorrow.

When young people are given safe housing and the right support, the benefits are felt not just by them, but across society. They go on to find employment, contribute to the economy and engage in their community. Every day, we see the incredible difference that can be made when an entire industry comes together to be a force for change.

In the words of the Duke of Cambridge who attended our recent LandAid Gala Dinner, “Don’t underestimate your power to do immense good”. Individually, we can play our part in tackling youth homelessness. But together, we can end youth homelessness for good.