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Desperate search by Centrepoint looking east for spare land to help London's homeless youth

PUBLISHED: 07:00 16 September 2019

Tower Hamlets Mayor John Biggs' is buttonholed by Centrepoint in search for any spare land. Picture: Mike Brooke

Tower Hamlets Mayor John Biggs' is buttonholed by Centrepoint in search for any spare land. Picture: Mike Brooke

Mike Brooke

A national charity is appealing to Tower Hamlets Council for "any spare land" to set up a centre to help homeless teenagers live independently.

Centrepoint advisor Carmen Zgouras... Centrepoint advisor Carmen Zgouras... "Any spare land would be life changing for homeless young kids." Picture: Mike Brooke

It has started "an informal conversation" with mayor John Biggs about youth homelessness, with cap-in-hand to see if any land can be found for Centrepoint's Independent Living programme for those leaving temporary hostel accommodation.

"It would be life changing for these young kids," the charity's strategy advisor Carmen Zgouras told the East London Advertiser. "The charity is trying to move them into proper homes after a hostel.

We offer young kids apprenticeships and jobs to turn their lives around, but need to move them on to affordable independent living."

Centrepoint is marking its 50 years as a homeless youth charity with a campaign highlighting public awareness of young people's desperate plight in London.

Carmen met the mayor by chance at the official opening night of English National Ballet's new production studios at Leamouth, opposite Canning Town on the Lea River bankside, last Thursday.

She told him at the event about "a desperate need" for property and asked if there was any available that the charity could be offered.

Carmen meets  the mayor by chance and asks him to help Centrepoint charity's Carmen meets the mayor by chance and asks him to help Centrepoint charity's "desperate need for land". Picture: Mike Brooke

But Mayor Biggs warned that Tower Hamlets was running out of land.

He told her: "We're now the second densest local authority area in the UK and soon will be the first, with the population rocketing. Land has become massively expensive.

"But I am happy to hear from Centrepoint. We already do a lot of work with the homeless."

Centrepoint is pressing to find homes for self-supporting living for those between 16 and 25.

But there is little scope to find available land in the East End with its zooming property prices.

"Our land has become scarce," the mayor pointed out. "It sounds tough, but we have to be measured in how we deal with people in need who don't have a connection with the area."

There was a ray of hope for Centrepoint from the mayor, however, hinting that there were some sites which can be developed for "meanwhile use", although it would be a complicated issue. He has, at least, agreed to keep the conversation going.

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