Friday, April 19News For London

Charity Depaul uses Spotify playlists to get attention on youth homelessness

The campaign called “Unheard” raises awareness of the number of young people without a home in the UK. The event was streamed live from Facebook’s London headquarters in an effort to reach younger generations of donors

Jecoliah, Kristina, George and Fatos shared their stories on Spotify playlists.

The youth homelessness charity Depaul UK launched a campaign on Friday to denounce the growing number of people on the streets who are not older than 25. The non-profit organization gathered the help of Spotify, Sony Music and the singer Tom Grennan, who performed in the launch at Facebook’s headquarters in London.

The stories of four former homeless young people are told through four playlists in Spotify. The song titles tell the experience of George, Kristina, Fatos and Jecoliah, while they were living on the streets. In a final audio track each of them tell their own story.

Mike Thiedke, CEO of Depaul UK, stressed the fact that many people try to ignore the problem: “We are so used to homelessness that we think it is part of the landscape, but it is important to remember that whoever we see on the streets, this person has been given a name, and a voice”.

Thiedke explained why his organization chose music as a way of communicating: “We used music because it has the power to connect with our inner feelings, it is a medium that brings us together”.

Family’s breakdowns, drug or alcohol addiction, and mental illness are the main three reasons why younger generations end up without a home. However, the Kurdish-Turkish Fatos, one of the youngsters that shared her story on Spotify, became homeless on a different ground. She came to the UK to study, but when she was about to go home, her mother told her not to, because her house was no longer safe.

“While I was on the streets, I used to sing”, says Jecoliah, a 19 year-old singer who lived on the streets several months. “People don’t look at you, they blamed the headphone, which is why I sang, because I wanted to be heard”. Jecoliah, who uses J-Cocoa as a stage-name,  is now studying music and she performed during the launch of the campaign.

George, Kristina, Jecoliah and Fatos received help from Depaul, and are not homeless anymore.

Using popular technological platforms such as Spotify, Depaul is trying to change how younger generations see homelessness, as many people of the same age are at the edge of sleeping rough.

According to the UK government statistics, 12,940 young people were homeless between 2016 and 2017. Fifty-eight percent of all rough sleepers are between 25 and 44 year-old. Nevertheless, Depaul UK says that 80,000 people are on the bridge of being on the street each year.