Viewed one way, these posters are a fear-mongering message about the dangers posed by homeless young people. But take a step around the corner, and they tell a different story.
Designed by Publicis, they’re raising awareness for DePaul’s Nightstop service, which pairs young people experiencing homelessness with ordinary volunteers who provide temporary accommodation. In 2014 Nightstop’s 700 ‘hosts’ helped provide 13,400 bed-nights, to people including Harry, 22. ‘It was overwhelming, such a lovely genuine family and a welcoming experience,’ he says. ‘It gave me the time to sort myself out and get a permanent place to stay and I couldn’t be more grateful.’
As only 18 percent of Londoners would consider hosting a homeless person for the night, the campaign aims to demonstrate that there are ‘two sides to every story.’ Nancy, a volunteer from Enfield, explains: ‘In the beginning people may worry that they will get a stereotypical homeless youth battling with drugs and drink come through the door. But this is just not how it is. Young people who come to stay are always incredibly grateful and warm and it is always a positive experience for me and my family. The Nightstop team does training and vetting to make sure everyone is safe. You don’t have to be a trained social worker to help – often all it takes is a smile, a roof over their heads and a warm meal to turn someone’s life around.’
Find out more at depauluk.org.