Hug in a bag for homeless youngsters

6th July 2021

Imagine you’ve just found out you’re pregnant, are not yet 18 and have been thrown out of the family home with only the clothes you were wearing.

This happened to Katie. After being placed in supported accommodation, she was given a ‘Hug in a Bag’, which contained necessities for everyday self-care.

For many homeless young people, sofa surfing is the only way of keeping a roof over their heads, staying with different friends for days or weeks at a time, while they seek support and work out their next move.

Centrepoint, a national homeless charity supporting under-25s in England, has seen a 36% increase in people seeking support since lockdown began. In Carlisle, 5% of all homeless presentations in 2019/20 were care leavers, which is higher than the national average of 2%.

The Hug in a Bag project was set up by Period Poverty North Cumbria to provide essentials that vulnerable young people, who recently homeless, don’t have access to.

The project received just under £1,000 from the Cumbria COVID-19 Response Fund, to purchase supplies for the bags, which included but not limited to, toothpaste, toothbrush, soap, shampoo, towel and bedding packs.

“A lot of people who turn up homeless are very vulnerable, and they don’t have anything,” said Ann Ford, the driving force behind the project. “Often these young people will prioritise food over hygiene. The Hug in a Bag project gives them these little comforts.”

The funding provided 100 bags, which were distributed by Cumbria County Council to 16-18 year olds in Carlisle and Eden.

Ann continues: “The Hug in a bag allowed Katie to focus on her unborn child and new housing arrangements without being stressed about the things everyone else takes for granted in everyday life. We were also able to link Katie with health professionals and arrange midwife appointment for her pregnancy.”