A WORCESTER teenager says he has faced discrimination when applying for jobs because he lives in a hostel.

Gareth Dawe, aged 19, says he wants to change the negative stereotypes surrounding young homeless people.

The teenager fronted an event in Worcester last month, supported by Fixers, a charity helping thousands of young people across the country to take action and change things for the better.

“Working with Fixers, we want to challenge the misconception that young homeless people are unreliable, when many want to get into work,” said Mr Dawe.

“I have lived in a youth hostel since leaving home a year ago and I do voluntary work and skilled-based courses to improve my chances of getting a job.

“I want to encourage more people in the same position I was, to go out there and do something. I also want more employers and the local community to see young homeless people as individuals like anyone else.”

In February, your Worcester News revealed that Worcester has one of the highest number of rough sleepers in the country, outside London.

Government figures showed the city has an estimated 34 people sleeping rough, which is only topped by Brighton and Hove and Cornwall. Meanwhile, the South Worcestershire Nightstop, operated by Festival Housing, says it’s on the lookout for families to act as hosts for vulnerable youngsters. The group, which was set-up in 2009, says without it many young people would be sleeping rough.

“We have built up a network of volunteer host families who offer crucial help for young people in crisis but there has never been a more important time for residents to go into partnership with us and sign up to help south Worcestershire’s most vulnerable youngsters,” said Cath Woolford, co-ordinator of the Nightstop.

Nightstop supports 16-to 25-year-olds in the Malvern Hills, Wychavon and Worcester City districts.

One person who uses it, who only wanted to be known as James, said: “I don’t know what I would have done without Nightstop … probably slept outside and it was freezing.”

Any families interested in becoming hosts can contact Cath on 07918 160986.