Words from the streetwise

1st May 1998 at 01:00
HOMELESS young people are going back to school in an effort to prevent other children following in their footsteps.

The chairty Centrepoint says many children are at risk because they are so unprepared for leaving home. Many believe homelessness is something that could never happen to them. Now the charity is running a peer education scheme with the young homeless people.

Nineteen-year-old Jo left home three years ago because she thought her parents were "strict". She says: "At first it felt great because I was able to do everything I wanted. But it didn't turn out like that. I was lonely with no money and nowhere to go.

"The peer education project is a brilliant way of helping young people to see the meaning of homelessness. It has had a large effect on my life. It has helped me build my confidence but most of all I've been able to use my experiences to help other young people who haven't yet left home to understand the real world."

One pupil said after hearing Jo talk: "I suddenly realised how important home is and to appreciate it. Now I think anyone could find themselves in her situation."

Jo enjoyed teaching others so much she now works part-time at a local youth club.

A Centrepoint spokesman said: "Everyone thinks it will never happen to them, but it does, to so many young people. Hearing the harsh realities from another young person just a couple of years older makes them really sink in."

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