Young people, staff and volunteers all play an active part in KEY

25 Years This year marks 25 years since KEY was set up. We will be marking our 25th anniversary with a series of exciting events throughout the year, a total of 25 in fact. Dates for these will be announced via our Facebook Page and News Section.

Personal stories

Read about the lives of the young people who use our services by selecting the named links below. Their stories are typical of the many young people KEY helps and supports. The most common reason for youth homelessness is family breakdown.


Read their stories: LaraChrisCallumLouiseAndrew


Lara aged 16

Living at home was difficult for Lara. Her mother suffered from a mental illness which caused unpredictable moods and behaviour, resulting in a lot of stress and upset for Lara. Constant family feuds eventually led to the deterioration and breakdown of the relationship with her parents. When things got tough at home she stayed at friends’ homes – ‘sofa surfing’.

Eventually Lara was referred to KEY and offered a room at Flavia House. During her stay we encouraged her to attend courses to fulfil her potential to become a fitness coach. Our team also worked closely with Lara and her family to rebuild their relationship. After 6 months the family relationship improved sufficiently for Lara to return home.

“Such a resolution would not have been possible without the hard work and dedication of the KEY team at Flavia House”.  Father


Chris aged 17

Chris was the oldest of 7 siblings living in the family home. Unfortunately they were struggling financially and he was given an ultimatum to find employment or move out. He left the family home and was placed in an emergency accommodation for 6 weeks. After a failed shared tenancy with another young man he ended up in a wet hostel for 8 months. This environment had a detrimental effect on his emotional wellbeing leading to a diagnosis of anxiety and depression. His attendance and performance at college also began to go down.

Eventually he was referred to KEY and offered a place at Flavia House Living in a safe and secure environment where he felt comfortable to integrate socially and express his needs and personality, Chris’s confidence and self-esteem quickly began to improve. He worked well with staff to achieve all goals set on his support and development plan. This included completing his college work, so he progressed to his final year. Chris hopes to fulfil his potential by doing a degree.


Callum aged 19

Callum lived at home with his parents. He did well at school and completed a one year welding and pipe-fitting course. Despite this, Callum couldn’t find work and began stealing money from his parents. When confronted, Callum displayed anger-management issues, punching walls and storming out of arguments with them. Eventually his parents told him to leave home.

The only place he could find to stay was in the back of his girlfriend’s parent’s van. Callum was referred to KEY by Action Station, a local community charity. He was then supported by one of KEY’s Prevention of Homelessness Workers. Calum then revealed he was stealing cash to pay bills on an expensive mobile phone contract. He intended to pay the money back to his parents.

KEY put Callum in touch with a licensed financial debt advisor. They advised he return the phone to the service-provider and reach an agreement to pay back what he could in installments. To deal with his anger management problems, Callum agreed to attend counselling sessions.

Contact was made with the parents who initially allowed Callum to return home for one night. Then when they saw their son was living without a mobile phone and attending counseling they agreed to let him return permanently.


Louise Aged 18

Louise lived with her father, stepmother and their children. Her stepmother disliked Louise living in the home and asked her to leave. Louise could not return to her birth mother’s home as she refused to allow it due to Louise having alcohol issues at that time. Louise stayed 1 night on the settee at her sister’s overcrowded family home before being referred to one of KEY’s Prevention of Homelessness Workers.

Louise’s sister did not have the room or financial flexibility to support her. So KEY arranged for Louise to stay a few nights with the NIGHTSTOP service provided by the DePaul UK charity. Louise then applied for Jobseekers Allowance. KEY also took an Emergency Food Pack to her sister’s home where she was able to stay for one weekend before enrolling on a 12 week Prince’s Trust course at South Tyneside College, and a 1 week residential outward bounds course.

On the course she made friends including a girl whose parents invited her to stay with them while she was looking for accommodation. As result of her successful benefits claim, she was able to stay and pay board to her sister until her mother invited her back home.

Loiuse successfully gained employment and become a tenant of her own flat.


Andrew Aged 17

Andrew became homeless after the death of his mother and a breakdown in relations with his step-dad. Initially he stayed at the homes of various friends. He then stayed at a wet hostel but felt intimidated by other residents with alcohol problems.

Andrew was then referred to KEY and he stayed for several months at one of our shared houses. KEY supported Andrew to access bereavement counseling to deal with his mother’s death. We helped him with his budgeting skills and to get benefits. He also completed training courses at South Tyneside College. Eventually Andrew moved on to live independently in his own flat. He then began to rebuild his relationship with his step-dad.

“Life is getting better now, I’m back on track.” Andrew


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