Turning being young and homeless in Ilford into an art

“I just want to be myself and be happy how I want to be” is how one young person describes the inspiration for a piece of art raising awareness of homelessness.

Jodie Storey, 19, spent about three weeks on the street after leaving home after numerous suicide attempts.

She slept in strangers’ houses or spent then entire night walking around the streets of Ilford.

Her work, together with other young people who share similar experiences, was exhibited at Redbridge Central Library, Clements Road, Ilford on Friday.

Miss Storey said: “It’s horrible sleeping in someone’s house you don’t know, I was on the verge of a nervous breakdown. I ended up going down the pub meeting guys and going home with them. I was just trying to keep myself together.”

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The exhibition was organised by charity Team V which aims to raise awareness of the increasing number of young people living on the streets. According to the charity 75,000 young people nationwide will be without a home this Christmas.

“If you have no money to live then you have to find a way to support yourself,” she said. “You need to find a way to survive, lots of people turn to crime.”

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The charity gave the group of young people art materials to illustrate their experiences to helping other people understand what they have been through.

Miss Storey added: “It’s a way to express myself and my hopes and dreams. I can’t change to be someone that I’m not.”

George Fennelly, organiser of the exhibition, said he wanted to give something back to this community and raise awareness of the potential repercussions of proposed benefit cuts.

Mr Fennelly, 19, of Ilford said: “We have given them the tools to express their story and message, their hopes and dreams of what they want to achieve. They have done some amazing work.”

He said that he hoped the exhibition would change some of the negative stereotypes of the homeless.

“There’s an increase of young people on the streets, they have talents and ambitions and they are not lazy.”

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