Young people experiencing homelessness are usually unable to pursue a career, they are just focusing on surviving.  But with the right support in place, young people can not only thrive in employment but pursue their dreams of starting their own business.

Our Steps to Success programme helps young people do just that. The programme offers one-to-one tailored support to help them overcome barriers to employment by setting out realistic goals and equipping them with the relevant skills to succeed.

Chris was experiencing homelessness due to a family breakdown. After working with our Steps to Success team he is now working towards setting up his own fitness app. He said:

“Before coming to Depaul I was lost and felt like I didn’t have any purpose. I had nowhere to live due to family breakdown and various other reasons. I was unemployed and didn’t have anything to focus on. I did, however have my fitness that I held onto since I was a child.”

Through the programme young people who have goals relating to education, employment or training can apply for a Connect Fund of up £2000. This grant could cover the cost of a training course or fund a business idea.

Mia ended up homeless after her mum threw her out of home after an argument. Mia’s life is on the up – she set up her own beauty business, and has real ambitions for the future.

“Depaul have given me access to go to college to do Beauty Level 2 and 3, then the business grant as well. I got £2000. It would have taken me years to save up for otherwise.

“I had to pass my courses at college to be able to qualify and get what I wanted from the grant. So I went to college and did Beauty Level 2 and I’m doing Level 3. It took quite a while, but it was well worth it in the end.”

The funding comes from corporate and voluntary donations. To apply, young people must put together either a business plan or supporting statement, outlining their short- and long-term goals and how the funding would positively impact their progression. They also need a supporting statement from their Progression Coach, and two references from the community. If approved, the client will then attend a panel with staff and volunteers, to ‘pitch’ their application or idea.

Some of the young people who have been on the programme have gone to gain a personal training qualification and get equipment for starting a Personal Training business, or had one-to-one tutoring for retaking their GCSEs.

Chris added: “I don’t I don’t know where I’d be without the project staff and Steps to Success staff. I have the space to do my fitness inside and outside the project. I am able to use the facilities to help me reach my goal.”

Staff work with the young person to help them overcome financial barriers and promote and connect them to relevant volunteering opportunities to help boost their chances of success.

This type of support can help young people think what they are passionate about, imagine their futures and ultimately break out of the cycle of homelessness.

Chris said: “I now have a really positive outlook on life I feel focused.  Instead of thinking ‘why am I here?’ I’m now thinking ‘Right I’m here, let’s do something about it!’ and am able to be more proactive from all the support I have received.  I’m not there yet but I’ve taken lots of small steps and can see my goal a lot clearer and have a sense of direction.”

The Steps to Success programme helped 330 In 2021 young people pursue their employment dreams and build a better life for the future.


To find out about other services we deliver for young people experiencing homelessness, go to our services page.

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