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61% Increase in Youth Homelessness in Sussex since Covid-19 Lockdown

17th September 2020

Family breakdown is a leading cause of youth homelessness and pressure created by COVID-19 has drastically increased the number of vulnerable young people presenting as homeless in Sussex and Surrey. Since March, YMCA DownsLink Group, who provide supported accommodation and housing advice to young people (16-25) across the region, has seen a 61% increase in presentations of homelessness compared to the same time last year. Throughout lockdown, the charity has kept all of it’s accommodation projects open and continues to house over 750 vulnerable young people every night. In addition, it is increasing the number of trained mediators available, so that families can get mediation, before situations hit crisis point and a young person ends up with nowhere to live.

However, the extra demands on the charity is having an impact. To compound the problem, the charity is facing the financial impact of having to cancel its biggest annual fundraising event, Sleep Easy, due to have taken place in March. So, in an attempt to both raise the profile of the issues around youth homelessness and fundraise, they have re-invented Sleep Easy to encourage people to sign up on Friday 9th October 2020and raise money by sleeping, ‘anywhere but your bed’.

Chas Walker, CEO, YMCA DownsLink Group explains:

“Due to coronavirus, we had to postpone our mass participation Sleep Out event – so we have given it a stylish makeover to ensure it’s an accessible, inclusive and safe event that anyone can take part in. Instead of meeting up, the new challenge on 9th October, is to spend the night sleeping somewhere other than your bed, with your ‘bubble’ or on your own. Just grab a sleeping bag and sleep anywhere you like, your garden, hallway, lounge or any other safe space. The money raised will help fund our services which tackle the root causes of youth homelessness, including our vital family mediation service.”

The new format of Sleep Easy 2020 means that anyone, anywhere can take part. Children and young people are positively encouraged to take part and will be provided with special activity packs. There will also be virtual entertainment on offer throughout the evening on 9th October to ensure that there is a community feel to the event. In previous year’s participants have raised an average of £200 each and the charity is hoping that this year’s event will raise £50,000.


To find out more or sign up visit Sleep Easy (

To donate click here (