A youth homelessness charity supporting young people across Surrey and Hampshire has reported 65 per cent of the young people who arrive in its services are not in education, employment or training.

This means they often lack the skills and opportunity to overcome their challenges and to move on positively with their lives, the study by Aldershot-based Step by Step has found.

The charity’s new Brighter Futures appeal hopes to address this issue. It asks members of the public, companies and community groups to help fund key services that teach life skills, improve mental health and help young people work towards a sustainable future.

When Lena became homeless at just 16 years old, Step by Step was able to provide her with a safe, stable place to live. But that was just the start of her journey – the charity also supported her in getting back into college and she went on to win a scholarship for university.

Last year the appeal raised more than £14,000 and the charity hopes to do even better this year.

“Young people need more than just a roof over their head if they are to escape homelessness for good,” said Anda Chiu, head of fundraising at Step by Step. “We empower them with the skills and confidence they need to get into education or work and start to realise their potential.”

It doesn’t take a lot of money to make a real difference. Just £20 could pay for a life skills training session, while £50 could buy smart clothes and shoes for a job interview.

Lena now lives self-sufficiently with a brighter future ahead of her. “I am excited and scared about the future, but I feel more confident to deal with it,” she said.

To make a donation or find out more, go to the website www.stepbystep.org.uk/brighterfutures