Local charity MACS is asking for people to take part in Sleep Out 2019 at Victoria Park in Belfast on the 14th November to End Youth Homelessness.

End Youth Homelessness (EYH) is a national movement founded in 2010 by Centrepoint, after its patron, HRH the Duke of Cambridge set down a challenge to end youth homelessness across the UK.  Local charity MACS Supporting Children and Young People (MACS) is EYH’s charity member. MACS hosted the first ever End Youth Homelessness Sleep Out in Belfast last year. It raised £28,000 which was spent on much needed front line housing and support services for children and young people in NI experiencing or facing homelessness. This year MACS are challenging the public to spend a night of 14th of November at Victoria Park, Belfast from 7pm to 7am.

MACS’ CEO, Mary Ryan describes the awareness and fundraising event “Sleep Out doesn’t aim to replicate homelessness but participants will get a glimpse into how hard it is to function the next day if you haven’t had access to your own home comforts”, adding, “It’ll give an insight into how much harder it is for young people to stay in work or education; look after their mental and physical health and maintain positive relationships when they are living with the chaos or fear of being homeless.”

However, ‘Until the challenge starts at 11pm, Sleep Out is a lot of fun and there’s a real sense of camaraderie’ says MACS. McDonalds, Donegall Place and Pizzaworks are donating hot food; KoosKoos and String Ninjas will be performing; and Ajendance have specially produced a piece of modern dance depicting issues related to youth homelessness which they’ll perform on the night. Before bedtime there’s even some yoga by Yoga Quarter and a chill out session with The Gathering Drum. Mary Ryan says “We’d like to thank Connswater Community Greenway and Belfast City Council for access to the marquee at Victoria Park’. Hinting at celebrity participation, MACS states, “We also have some very special guests lined up for the night.”

Referring to misconceptions about homelessness, Mary explains that ‘only a handful of young people are visibly sleeping on the streets, the majority are in hostels, temporary accommodation or sofa surfing whilst some homeless non-UK Nationals remain completely hidden’. MACS contributed to a recent report by Simon Community that highlighted risk factors associated with young people’s pathways into homelessness. Mary Ryan explains, “adverse childhood experiences including neglect, trauma and abuse; community and family conflict; alcohol and drug use amongst family members; bullying at school; exploitation and social deprivation all increase the risk of a child going on to become a young adult experiencing homelessness’.

Commenting on the situations that often precipitate homelessness Mary continues, ‘commonly relationships with family or friends break down, the young person is at risk of violence or abuse if they stay at home, or support for a young person in the care system suddenly ceases as they get older. It’s clear that these factors are often outside a young person’s control. Society sometimes views them as failures but it’s often that the young people are being failed by society”. On the plus side, Mary Ryan states ‘We are honoured to be part of the End Youth Homelessness movement as all members share the same core belief that, with the right opportunities and support, homeless young people can turn their lives around, build high aspirations and move on to successful and independent lives”.

Nick Connolly, Managing Director of EYH founding charity Centrepoint states, “MACS has a brilliant track record of helping young people turn their lives around and we are very excited to be working with them.”

MACS supported 1089 young people this year with 98 young people accommodated in supported housing. MACS also offer floating support in the community to young people on the verge of homelessness. Floating support helps 57 young people in Greater Belfast, 42 in Lisburn and 79 in Downpatrick at any one time. Due to Sleep Out money, MACS has been able to provide extra support in the way of food vouchers, electric, oil and gas to young people in crisis. MACS also provide positive wellbeing services, mentoring, social integration and participation schemes including their innovative Muddy Paws social enterprise.

MACS are tackling the youth homelessness problem locally by providing young people with stable housing, education, training and careers advice and ensuring they have life skills such as shopping, cooking and being able to budget their money so they can leave MACS housing and support services to forge an independent life.

MACS challenges you to end youth homelessness by taking part in the sponsored Sleep Out on 14th November. Registration for the Sleep Out costs £20 and participants are asked to raise a minimum £100. Please register as an individual, company or a group. To Register your place visit https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/belfast-sleep-out-2019-end-youth-homelessnessmacs-registration-71253221303. To donate, text ‘MACS05’ followed by the donation amount to 70070. For example, to donate £5 send ‘MACS05 £5’ to 70070.

For further info email events@macsni.org or call MACS on 02890 313163


For press enquiries contact CarlaRollock@macsni.org or call 07861 848039


End Youth Homelessness is a movement which brings together local charities to tackle the UK-wide issue of youth homelessness on a national scale. Each EYH charity works in its own way to meet the needs of local young people working directly with over 26 000 young people who are amongst the most deprived in the UK

Each EYH charity works in its own way to meet the needs of local young people working directly with over 26 000 young people who are amongst the most deprived in the UK.

Simon Community Pathways to Youth Homelessness Report