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Homeless charity marks its 21st year

PUBLISHED: 13:33 26 May 2010 | UPDATED: 11:43 23 August 2010

RENTING her own one-bedroom flat and studying to be a legal secretary, a teenager is set to tackle the working world - but matters were very different six months ago. Kicked out of home and with few options Shelbie Morgan, 18, was offered a bed at homele

RENTING her own one-bedroom flat and studying to be a legal secretary, a teenager is set to tackle the working world - but matters were very different six months ago.

Kicked out of home and with few options Shelbie Morgan, 18, was offered a bed at homeless charity Depaul UK's hostel in November where she quickly began to develop the vital skills needed to make it on her own and has now moved out.

Operating as a refuge for teenagers with nowhere else to go, the six-bedroom hostel in The Grove, Gravesend, has helped youngsters achieve independence and employment for eight years.

And the charity which founded the hostel is now preparing to celebrate its 21st birthday on June 20.

Miss Morgan said: "I learnt how to look after myself, how to plan ahead, and do things like budget. Before I moved in here I had no idea what was like living alone, I now know how to take care of myself.

Offering its residents their own room with shared kitchen, living room and toilet facilities, Depaul looks to teach domestic skills such as cooking and budgeting to pay bills, as well as help find work or training.

Project manager Jacky Levy said: "In all the time we have been here we have been full, with a waiting list. At the moment there are around 12 young people waiting to move in.

"The most common cause is problems at home so an important role we play is as a mediator to try and prevent them being kicked out in the first place."

The family mediation service is run out of an office in Harmer Street.

Amber Chambers, 18, moved into the hostel following two months of "sofa surfing."

She said: "When I actually came here my mum had taken me back in because I had nowhere else to go. We were both made redundant at the same time and were in each others pockets and it was getting to breaking point.

"Since I have been here we actually get on my better."

To celebrate the charity's anniversary staff from The Grove and Harmer Street will stage a sleep out on June 20 to raise awareness of the issue of homelessness.

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