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Wednesday, 31 October 2018

Stacey Dooley gives a voice to homeless teens in new film for BBC Children in Need

Broadcaster Stacey Dooley MBE will uncover stories from the UK's homeless teenagers in a new film Stacey Dooley: The Young And Homeless for BBC Children in Need, coming to BBC One on 13 November at 10.45pm.

The film, from Bafta Award-winning True Vision Productions, gives a voice to some of society's most vulnerable young people, sensitively sharing their thoughts and concerns, shining a light on their struggle to find a safe place to sleep and their journey in securing a stable and permanent home.

Last year in the UK more than 100,000 young people presented themselves as homeless, but the real number is much higher as thousands of teenagers go under the radar by sofa surfing or staying with friends.

One of the young people featuring in the film is Shelby, aged 18, who became homeless after leaving the care system. Viewers hear Shelby's thoughts on the dangers of being on the streets of Manchester and how she would rather walk the streets all night than fall asleep for fear of being robbed.

Shelby says: "We just walk around… it's every man for themselves around here so it's [sleeping on the streets] not beneficial at all, it's dangerous.

"I think people misunderstand the concept of being homeless, because they think it's just people with a sleeping bag but it's not actually like that. There's more depth to it - anyone can be homeless. You can be homeless and have make-up, you don't have to look homeless to be homeless. A lot of people try their best not to look homeless because they are - so it's hidden. There are a lot more homeless people that what you can see with your eyes, Anyone can be homeless."

Viewers will also meet Millie, aged 17 from Devon, who shares her experience of finding herself without a home at the age of 14. Speaking to Stacey, Millie says: "Home life wasn't very good and there were a lot of issues growing up. My older siblings had moved out, my GCSEs were coming up and I knew what I wanted in life and I knew [leaving home] was the best thing for me.

"Not having a home makes you just feel worried, it's very exhausting. It affected my mental health quite a lot and I found myself getting down into really low places in my life and I found getting out of those low places were even harder just because of the situations going on. I was constantly stressed; I didn't really know what to do. I didn't know how to deal with myself and my own emotions, so I think it does really affect your mental health. As a teenager, you're already going through so many changes within yourself… your emotions feel so heightened all the time so to have to put all that stress on top of what you're going through already, it really does affect you.

"I think everybody needs a home or a safe place to be, otherwise you can't really move on with your life."

The film also follows 18 year-old Josh over a six-month period as he spends his nights on the streets of Blackpool in night shelters or sofa surfing - all whilst holding down a job at a local take-away and tirelessly striving to secure a permanent home.

Stacey Dooley: The Young And Homeless will also demonstrate how projects and organisations dedicated to supporting young people through these difficult times become a life-line, giving young people the hope they need to overcome their adverse situations. These organisations include Streetlife in Blackpool and Encompass South West in North Devon, which are supported by BBC Children in Need.

Streetlife currently receives over £99,500 across three years in BBC Children in Need funding to employ a full-time youth worker who can provide intensive one-to-one support for young people aged 18 and under who are at risk of, experiencing, or have experienced homelessness. Encompass South West currently receives £105,450 in BBC Children in Need funding over three years to provide The Junction project, supporting young people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness in rural communities. The project aims to help the young people to become safe, improve confidence and increase life skills.

Speaking of the film, Stacey says: "Our film for BBC Children in Need, shares stories from some incredible teenagers from across the UK facing the struggles of finding a stable roof over their heads. I am so grateful to all of the brave young people involved and hope that their honesty will go on to start a really important conversation about today's homeless young people.

"In addition, the film highlights how organisations and projects funded by public donations and charities such as BBC Children in Need go on to change the lives of young people who find themselves homeless or at risk or homelessness. I hope the British public are encouraged to tune in and donate to BBC Children in Need to enable the charity to continue to support children and young people who need it most."

Tommy Nagra, BBC Children in Need's Director of Content, adds: "With thanks to Stacey Dooley, our colleagues at the BBC and True Vision, we're pleased to be bringing this hugely poignant and thought-provoking film to viewers across the UK. Stacey Dooley: The Young And Homeless is a riveting watch, revealing just how serious the situation is and how important it is that we support our young people, who, for one reason or another, have found themselves without the comfort, safety and security of a home and with nobody to turn to."

Brian Wood, Founder of True Vision Productions, syas: "Stacey has once again shown in this film that she has an unrivalled ability to connect with young people in difficult situations. The four homeless teens who Stacey spent time with, in Blackpool, Manchester and Devon, illustrate many of the challenges facing young people in these situations, and articulate clearly and powerfully the profound need on the streets of the UK for the type of support BBC Children in Need provides. But Josh, Caitlin, Shelby and Millie a just four of over 100,000 teenagers who suffer homelessness every year. Every one of them needs our help."

Stacey Dooley: The Young and Homeless will air on BBC One during BBC Children in Need Appeal Week on BBC One on 13 November at 10.45pm. Those interested in finding out more about BBC Children in Need can visit bbc.co.uk/Pudsey.

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