Youth Homeless Campaign aiming to raise awareness of issues in Croydon
A YOUNG woman has taken on the fight against homelessness after being thrown into the situation herself.
Jessica Chipperfield said she left her father's home in Addiscombe after his partner learned she was gay.
The 20-year-old has launched the Youth Homeless Campaign to help others in similar situations.
Jessica, who is sofa-surfing between friends, said: "I want to raise awareness of homelessness so people can understand the reasons for it – it is not the person's fault.
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"Young people need to be given better advice and help in their way, rather than getting pushed and shoved about."
Jessica said she was also spurred into action after being disappointed with help she received from Croydon Council over her housing problems.
She said: "They gave me an information pack and told me I can get rent for £290 to £340. There is a lack of help and advice."
Jessica and co-founder Michael Castle, from New Addington, are now developing the campaign, talking to homeless people, gathering contacts and learning about the problem.
She said: "On Tuesday we started off at Queen's Gardens where they run the soup kitchen.
"We spoke to the homeless people and spoke to the volunteers. We went and searched for shelters and at car parks and other places.
"We spoke to one guy who was really friendly and said he had school and qualifications but was homeless due to his mum kicking him out.
"Another guy was sofa-surfing and his friends got fed up and so got me kicked out onto the street and beaten up.
"We spoke to as many people as we could; it is all about building it up now."
Luckily for her, she planned to go to her mother's in Mitcham for a few days over Christmas.
She said: "At the moment I have not got a job and people are saying to me because I am homeless I cannot get a job.
"I am taking each day as it comes and seeing what the next challenge is going to be. It is a struggle every day, not knowing where you will be sleeping."
A Croydon Council spokesman said it was sorry Jessica was disappointed with the service she received from the council but families with children had to come first.
He said: "Like many local authorities, the council currently has a shortage of temporary accommodation and has to prioritise families with children and those who are deemed vulnerable.
"We assisted Ms Chipperfield by offering guidance on finding her own private-rented accommodation and gave her an advice pack which included information on housing benefit, landlords, deposit schemes and hostels."
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