THE boss of a housing charity halfway through a challenge to live five days as a homeless young person said she’s struggling to make ends meet — and has just 85p to last her two days.
Maura Jackson, the director of Bolton Young Person’s Housing Scheme (BYPHS), decided to take up a challenge laid down by one of the charity’s beneficiaries to live five days in their shoes.
After being given just £40 to live on for the period — as if she was living on benefits — and moving into one of the charity’s temporary houses, Maura said the challenge is much tougher than expected.
Speaking on Saturday she said: “It’s been horrendous. The first day I moved in we hadn’t realised the gas meter had been capped — so there was no heating or hot water, and no central heating and no shower.
“I had to have a stand-up wash using 18 kettles of water.
“But the biggest thing is money. Once I’d paid my bills I only had £11 left for eight meals, and once I’d got food it left me with 85p, which if I was on the scheme would have to last me until next Wednesday.
“If I was in this position all the time I would be turning to a foodbank. There's no way people can afford to live on state benefits.
“And it’s a really lonely lifestyle. It’s so isolating and boring.
“Everything you think of doing — things like I normally do, like eat out or going to cinema — you can’t do because of a lack of money, and you don’t have the motivation when you’ve sat in all day.
“I’m ok today as I’m attending a charity bag pack but I’m dreading tomorrow, with only 85p and nowhere to go. It’s really hard.”
Since 1991 BYPHS has helped thousands of 16 to 25 years find accommodation and live independently, and so avoid having to sleep rough.
Young people come to the service for a multitude of reasons – from family breakdowns, to addiction or poverty.
So far Maura has raised almost £700 from her challenge, smashing her £500 target, which will go towards an emergency fund within the scheme.
She said: “The support is fantastic because it was never really about sponsorship, I wanted to raise awareness about homelessness.
“It’s been an eye-opening experience.”
To sponsor Maura go to http://www.justgiving.com/Maura-Jackson/eurl.axd/3a165c01334d78429485343003a47231