Pin It
london youth
London’s homeless youth are travelling on night buses to stay warmvia the Londonist

London’s homeless youth sleeping rough on night buses

Charities are handing out tickets and advising young people on the best routes to take in order to stay warm

The more fortunate of us see the night bus simply as a vessel to return us home after nights out in far-flung corners of the capital. But for many of London’s homeless youth, night buses are increasingly becoming places of refuge, the Guardian reports. As we approach winter - homeless teenagers who cannot find shelter in hostels – are being given bus tickets by charities and told which are the best bus routes looping across London that’ll keep them warmest for longest.

The issue is being attributed to the city’s housing crisis and its rapidly rising rents (how many more times can it be said?), cuts to benefits (whoever saw that being a problem?), a shrinking number of beds in youth hostels and funding cuts to homelessness charities.

Shelagh O’Connor, director of the New Horizon Youth Centre, told the Guardian that they’re increasingly looking to public transport as an option, "because they are safer riding buses than on the streets. We tell them which routes to choose, so that they will be traveling around all night. They come back in the morning and have some cereal and a shower.” The charity is also having to give out sleeping bags instead of shelter.

"We wouldn’t have had to do that in 2010. We would have got them into an emergency hostel,” she said. "It is a dire situation. It has never been as bad as this; I am extremely worried. It is so difficult at the moment and I can’t see any new strategies being put in place that might improve the situation. We are all aware of the dearth of accommodation in London and spiralling rents."

How long can we continue selling the city at the cost of our youth’s future? While cranes and corporations render the city’s skyline unrecognisable and line the pockets of investors, kids travel across the city on night buses so they don’t freeze.

Where are we now?